According to a new analysis from Bloomberg, countries around the world are now adding more renewable power than coal, natural gas and oil combined.
The finding was announced on Tuesday by Michael Liebreich, founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, at the BNEF annual summit in New York. According to Liebreich, 2013 was the turning point, in which 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity was installed worldwide, beating out the 141 GW of fossil fuel capacity added that year.
“The electricity system is shifting to clean,” said Liebreich in his keynote address. “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.”
This renewable domination is expected to increase and accelerate over time, with four times as much renewable capacity added within the next 15 years.
In the United States, planned additions to the electrical grid will come mainly from renewable sources in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. About 20 GW of wind, natural gas, solar, nuclear and other renewable energies is slated for installation this year. Meanwhile, about 16 GW of conventional generating capacity will be retired, 81 percent of which comes from coal.
This follows a worldwide trend that saw investment in renewable power grow 17 percent in 2014. The rising investment in renewables is a reflection of the technology’s declining costs and international initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The latter factor is essential if world governments hope to keep average global temperatures from rising above two degrees Celsius by the end of this century; the former, however, is simply good economics.
A recent analysis from the European Union found that onshore wind power is more cost-efficient than coal, gas and nuclear energy. In Denmark, wind energy is nearly half as expensive as coal and natural gas, and the country already derives about 43 percent of its energy from wind and solar. Meanwhile, the UK has broken several wind power records and Scotland has generated enough electricity from wind to power every home in the country.
Add into this energy mix the warning that $900 billion of oil investments may no longer be profitable and the fact that American coal is on the decline, and the future of Earth’s electricity looks mighty green indeed.