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Half the world is 5 years past a peak in fossil fuel power generation

Half of the world’s economies are already five years past a peak in power generation from fossil fuels, new analysis from energy think tank Ember shows.

If fossil fuel power generation is unchanged for at least five years since a country’s initial fossil fuel power peak, it’s considered to have passed a peak. Ember’s analysis focused on domestic electricity generation from 2000 to 2022.

Emissions from 107 economies representing 38% of global electricity demand have fallen by almost 20% in the last decade. Seventy-eight of these economies have displaced fossil fuels from their power sectors with clean energy in the years since a post-2000 fossil fuel peak. As many as 49 of them did so despite an increase in overall electricity generation, which in most cases were driven by an increase in electricity demand. 

“Not many people realize just how many countries’ power sectors are already well into a phase of fossil [fuel] decline. For many countries, this was done simultaneously to rising electricity demand,” said Dave Jones, global insights lead at Ember. 

In almost every region of the world, countries are moving beyond a peak in fossil fuel power. 

The EU, Oceania, and North America are already well into a period of fossil fuel power decline, with fossil fuel generation dropping by 30%, 20%, and 15%, respectively, from their regional peaks. The EU leads the way, with all but one EU member state (Latvia) having passed the milestone of five years since a peak in fossil fuel power since 2000.

At a continent-wide level, fossil fuel power across Africa appears to have plateaued; a similar flattening is happening in Latin America and the Caribbean, and that’s been the case for over a decade. The only regions yet to reach a peak are Asia and the Middle East. (But Nepal’s a success story – it’s removed fossil fuels from its power sector entirely.)

“Such is the success of solar and wind, the peak is close even in many key emerging economies. We are on the cusp of a new era of fossil decline in the global power sector,” Jones added. 

Ember’s analysis also reveals that economies that are at least one year past a peak in fossil fuel power represent 50% of global demand – providing further evidence that we are at a tipping point for fossil fuel power generation. So far this year, power sector emissions are already plateauing, with Ember analysis showing that emissions only increased by 0.2% in the first half of 2023. 

Read more: US solar capacity additions edged out natural gas additions in 2023

Photo: “Coal power plant” by eutrophication&hypoxia is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.

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