How Much Of The World’s Electricity Is Sustainable?

The central challenge in addressing climate issues revolves around energy, and it is also a crucial component of the solution.  

A significant portion of the Earth’s greenhouse gases, which create a heat-trapping effect, originates from the production of energy through the combustion of fossil fuels for electricity and heat generation. 

So how much of the world’s electricity is sustainable? Let’s find out.

Renewable Energy Sources

Coal, oil, and gas, classified as fossil fuels, overwhelmingly contribute to global climate change, responsible for over 75 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. 

The scientific consensus is unambiguous. To avert the most severe consequences of climate change, emissions must be nearly halved by 2030 and reach a net-zero status by 2050.  

Achieving this goal requires moving away from reliance on fossil fuels and directing investments toward alternative energy sources characterized by cleanliness, accessibility, affordability, sustainability, and reliability. 

What Percentage of Energy is Sustainable

Renewable energy sources, abundant in nature and harnessed from the sun, wind, water, waste, and Earth’s heat, are continually replenished by natural processes, emitting minimal to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the atmosphere. 

Although fossil fuels still dominate global energy production, comprising more than 80 percent, cleaner energy alternatives are progressively gaining traction. Currently, approximately 29 percent of electricity is derived from renewable sources.

Why Transition To Clean Energy is Important

Here are five reasons why speeding up the transition to clean energy is the most effective way to ensure a healthy, livable planet for future generations. 

  • Abundant Renewable Energy  
  • Renewable energy is Cheap  
  • Renewable Energy is Healthier 
  • More jobs through renewable energy  
  • Economically sensible choice

Sustainable VS Non- Sustainable Energy

sustainable electricity
Sustainable and non-sustainable sources refer to different types of resources based on their ability to be utilized without depleting or harming the environment and their capacity to meet the needs of current and future generations. Here’s an overview of each:

Sustainable Sources:

Sustainable sources are those that can be replenished naturally and are not depleted faster than they can regenerate. These sources are considered environmentally friendly and contribute to long-term ecological balance. Some examples include: 

Renewable Energy: Sources like solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy are sustainable because they are naturally replenished and do not deplete over time. 

Biomass: Organic materials such as wood, crop residues, and organic waste can be used sustainably as a source of energy. 

Sustainable Agriculture: Practices that maintain soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem balance without depleting natural resources. 

Responsible Forestry: Harvesting wood and forest products in a way that ensures the forest’s regeneration and long-term health. 

Water Conservation: Managing water resources in a way that ensures availability for future generations.

Non-Sustainable Sources:

Non-sustainable sources are those that are finite or deplete faster than they can be naturally replenished. The use of these sources can lead to environmental degradation and may not be viable for long-term use. Some examples include: 

Fossil Fuels: Coal, oil, and natural gas are finite resources that contribute to environmental pollution and climate change. Their extraction and combustion release greenhouse gases. 

Non-Renewable Minerals: Resources like rare metals and minerals that are extracted from the earth but do not regenerate on a human timescale. 

Over-Exploitation of Fisheries: Harvesting fish and marine resources at a rate that exceeds their natural reproduction, leading to depletion. 

Deforestation: Clearing large areas of forests without adequate replanting, leading to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. 

Excessive Water Extraction: Drawing water from aquifers or rivers at a rate that exceeds natural replenishment, leading to water scarcity. 

In sustainable development, there is a growing emphasis on transitioning from non-sustainable to sustainable sources to ensure a more balanced and resilient future for the planet.

Global Energy Production

Global electricity production is a dynamic and evolving landscape. 

As of the early 2020s, the global electricity production mix includes a combination of various energy sources. The major contributors to global electricity production include:

Fossil Fuels:

Coal: Historically, coal has been a significant contributor to electricity production, although its share has been gradually decreasing due to environmental concerns. 

Natural Gas: Natural gas-fired power plants have seen an increase in use, partly because they are considered a cleaner alternative to coal.

Renewable Energy:

Hydropower: Hydroelectric power remains one of the largest sources of renewable energy for electricity generation. 

Wind Power: The capacity of wind power has been growing rapidly in many parts of the world. 

Solar Energy: Photovoltaic solar power has experienced remarkable growth, with decreasing costs making it more competitive. 

Nuclear Power: 

Nuclear energy contributes a significant portion of electricity in some countries, although the growth has been slower compared to other sources. 

Other Sources:

Biomass, geothermal, and other sources collectively contribute a smaller but still noteworthy share to global electricity production. 

It’s important to highlight that the energy mix varies significantly by region and country. Some nations rely heavily on specific sources due to geographical, economic, or policy considerations.  

Challenges of Sustainable Energy Future

renwable energy

Intermittency and Reliability

Challenge: Renewable energy sources like solar and wind are intermittent, depending on weather conditions. Ensuring a reliable and consistent power supply requires addressing issues of intermittency and storage. 

Energy Storage and Grid Integration

Developing efficient and cost-effective energy storage solutions is crucial for storing excess energy generated during peak times and supplying it during periods of low renewable generation. 

Infrastructure and Investment

Transitioning to renewable energy requires significant investments in new infrastructure and technologies. This poses financial challenges and may require changes in investment patterns and policies. 

Transition from Fossil Fuels

Reducing dependence on fossil fuels poses economic and geopolitical challenges, as many economies are heavily reliant on these sources. A smooth transition requires managing the economic impact on fossil fuel-dependent regions. 

Technological Innovation

Continued innovation is needed to enhance the efficiency and reduce the costs of sustainable energy technologies. Research and development are critical to overcoming technological barriers. 

Policy and Regulatory Frameworks

The lack of consistent and supportive policies and regulations can hinder the growth of sustainable energy. Governments need to create stable and favorable frameworks to incentivize investments in clean energy. 

Opportunities for Sustainable Energy Future

Climate Mitigation and Adaptation

Opportunity: Sustainable energy is a key tool for mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also offers opportunities for adapting to the impacts of climate change. 

Job Creation

Opportunity: The transition to sustainable energy creates jobs in manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and other sectors. This can stimulate economic growth and support the development of a green workforce. 

Energy Independence

Relying on local and renewable energy sources reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels, enhancing energy security and reducing vulnerability to geopolitical events. 

Cost Competitiveness

As technology advances and economies of scale are realized, sustainable energy sources are becoming increasingly cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels, making them more attractive to investors and consumers. 

Environmental and Health Benefits

Sustainable energy sources have lower environmental impacts and contribute to improved air quality, reducing the health risks associated with pollution. 

Decentralized Energy Systems

Sustainable energy allows for the development of decentralized energy systems, empowering communities to generate and manage their energy, fostering resilience and self-sufficiency. 

Technological Innovation, Projection, and Collaboration

The transition to renewable energy encourages innovation and collaboration among industries, governments, and research institutions, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. 

The Australian government has undertaken various initiatives and projects related to energy, climate change, and sustainability.  

Here are some key initiatives and projections: 

National Hydrogen Strategy

The Australian government released a National Hydrogen Strategy to position Australia as a major player in the emerging global hydrogen market. The strategy focuses on developing a clean, innovative, and competitive hydrogen industry.

Renewable Energy Target (RET)

Australia has set a target to achieve 33,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 under the Renewable Energy Target. This initiative aims to increase the share of renewable energy in the national energy mix.

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC)

The CEFC is a government-owned fund that invests in clean energy projects. It plays a role in supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and low-emission technologies. 

Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)

The ERF is Australia’s central policy for achieving emissions reduction. It provides financial incentives for businesses and organizations to adopt practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Snowy 2.0 Hydroelectric Project

The Snowy 2.0 project is a major expansion of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme. It involves the construction of a pumped storage facility to support renewable energy integration and grid stability. 

Technology Investment Roadmap

The government has outlined a Technology Investment Roadmap to prioritize and support key technologies that contribute to emissions reduction. This includes investments in hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and renewable energy. 

Net Zero by 2050

Australia has set a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This commitment aligns with global efforts to mitigate climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy. 

Renewable Energy Expansion

The government aims to continue the expansion of renewable energy capacity, with a focus on solar and wind projects. This includes both large-scale renewable energy developments and support for distributed generation. 

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

There is an increasing focus on promoting electric vehicles and associated infrastructure. The government aims to support the adoption of electric vehicles to reduce emissions from the transport sector. 

Check out our EV chargers to get the best prices.  

Investment in Low-Emission Technologies

Continued investment in research, development, and commercialization of low-emission technologies is expected to drive innovation and support the transition to a more sustainable energy landscape. 
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