One quarter of all the world’s energy generation will be renewable by 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on Wednesday. The news comes just days after President Obama unveiled a National Climate Action Plan for the United States that signals a remarkable shift towards a cleaner energy future. However, coal will remain the world’s dominant source of energy – which somewhat negates any gains in renewables.
By 2018, solar and wind energy generation plants will surpass natural gas and produce twice as much energy as nuclear plants. As costs for greener technology falls, renewable sources of energy have become more competitive.
The growth of renewables “is a bright spot in an otherwise bleak assessment of global progress towards a cleaner and more diversified energy mix,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.
“This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an excuse for government complacency, especially among OECD countries,” she added.
Earlier this year, the IEA warned that the world is on track for four degree warming, which is double the number scientists say is necessary to keep ecosystems stable.
Measures such as curtailing coal-fired plants and reducing subsidies, which currently favors fossils over renewables by a factor of 12, both of which President Obama promised to do in his climate change speech at Georgetown University this week, are essential to slowing that temperature rise.
But that will be tough given that most countries rely heavily on coal – the dirtiest energy source on earth.
By 2018, China’s total energy mix will be comprised of 40 percent renewables, the highest percentage in the world. But in 2015, according to the IEA, a full 65 percent of its energy will still be derived from coal.