Half of the world is past a peak in fossil power

  • London

  • 20 October 2023

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. Emissions from these 107 power sectors, representing 38% of global electricity demand, have fallen by almost 20% in the last decade. 

The vast majority (78) of these economies have displaced fossil fuels from their power sectors through clean electricity growth in the years since a post-2000 fossil power high. As many as 45 of them did so despite an increase in overall electricity generation, in most cases driven by an increase in electricity demand. 

Not many people realise just how many countries’ power sectors are already well into a phase of fossil 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 power. 

The EU, Oceania and North America are already well into a period of fossil power decline, with fossil generation dropping by 30%, 20% and 15%, respectively, from their regional peaks. All but one EU member state have passed the milestone of five years since a peak in fossil power this millennium.

At a continent-wide level, fossil power across Africa appears to have plateaued; a similar flattening is true for Latin America and the Caribbean, which has been the case for over a decade. The only regions yet to reach a peak are Asia and the Middle East.

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 which are at least one year past a peak in fossil power represent 50% of global demand – providing further evidence that we are at a tipping point for fossil 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.