Renewables reach tipping point as fossil fuels fall behind

Intro

“Fossil fuels just lost the race against renewables”. This is the confident conclusion of new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which makes it clear that “it is no longer a question of if the world will transition to clean energy, but how long it will take”. The analysis shows the massive take up in renewables compared to fossil fuels since 2013 and the fact wind and solar prices continue to plummet globally, with them now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Countries, such as Australia, that are choosing to remain reliant on fossil fuels, particularly coal, for energy and exports, are marginalising their futures, economically and politically. The BNEF report, coupled with the call earlier this week by the head of the World Bank to scrap fossil fuel subsidies, shows that the writing really is on the wall for these energy sources. News today that the European Commission is allowing industry to influence decisions on fracking, however, suggests that old habits die hard. But with research showing that bold moves to speed up the energy transition will be good for health, jobs and the climate, it is only a matter of time before actors across the board realise that “there’s no going back,” and that the energy transition is here to stay.

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MT @Oxfam  Tipping pt: We now add more “clean energy” power capacity ea yr than #fossilfuels http://ow.ly/LDapV  ht @erikbryn

Key Points

  • Renewables have reached a tipping point. Analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance confirms that the era of fossil fuels is over and the reign of renewables is well and truly underway. The world is transitioning away from dirty fossil fuels towards an energy-system based on renewables and “there is no going back”.
  • The energy transition is good for the climate, health and jobs. A recent study showed that if the EU scaled up its efforts to tackle climate change and ditch dirty fossil fuels, it would create 420,000 jobs, save around 46,000 lives and prevent $170 billion in fossil fuel imports costs. Research published this week also shows that renewable energy creates about 18,000 jobs each year in Germany alone.
  • It is time the fossil fuel industry and governments embraced the new reality of the energy transition. Study after study reveals that moving to 100 per cent renewables is desirable and realistic. France is the latest country to be shown how it could be 100 per cent powered by renewables by 2050, while Spain produced 47 per cent of its electricity from renewables in March and Portugal managed an impressive 70 per cent in the first quarter of the year even without fully developing their solar power potential.

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Key quotes

  • “The electricity system is shifting to clean. Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas.” – Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF.
  • “While a ‘science and technology network’ on unconventional fossil fuels sounds objective, it’s a complete façade. The European Commission is giving the fracking industry all the seats at the top table and crowding out citizens and groups with legitimate concerns about this dirty industry.” – Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.
  • “We need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now.” – Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank.

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