By 2025, coal will no longer be the main way to generate the world’s electricity
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The International Energy Agency released a report this week saying renewables would overtake coal and become the world’s biggest source of electricity generation by 2025.
Coal generates more than a third of the world’s electricity, more than any other source, but the International Energy Agency said that’s going to change soon.
“The transition from coal to renewables is, in a way, it’s just getting started,” said Clark Williams-Derry, an analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. He added that especially here in the U.S. that transition away from coal is because renewables are often the cheaper option. “In that context, it’s really hard for a coal producer, to change the trends, it’s like, sort of trying to sweep back the tide with a broom, it can’t be done.”
And legislation passed this year in Congress could accelerate those trends even more, said Akshaya Jha at Carnegie Mellon University.
“So the Inflation Reduction Act has the potential to bring, bring that sort of innovation for other products that we currently don’t think of as being cost effective,” Jha said.
The IRA includes billions in subsidies and tax credits to encourage development of technologies like advanced nuclear power and hydrogen generation in the U.S.
Internationally, the IEA report notes that momentum for renewable energy in Europe intensified after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine interrupted fuel supplies.
“OECD countries are kind of pushing faster now that they’ve had the issues with their conflict in Ukraine,” said Ian Lange, director of the mineral energy economics program at the Colorado School of Mines.
In China, where coal is still the main fuel used to generate electricity, the energy transition has been slower.
But that’s changing, said Greg Nemet at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. And that change matters for the proliferation of renewables.
“China is the biggest driver of it, one, because China is so big, but also because they now have much more ambitious targets for renewables and, you know, China lives up to its targets,” he said.
He said he wouldn’t be surprised if China actually exceeded its renewable energy targets, leading to an even bigger drop in coal use.
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