The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that much of the world took the need to shift to renewable power sources to heart in the past year. This is promising as, if it becomes more widespread, most nations may wean themselves from the use of fossil fuels much faster than expected. In turn, this will mitigate the adverse effects of climate change throughout the globe.
As of the end of 2023, the IEA estimates that around 440 gigawatts of power generated through renewable means have been added to national grids. This is greater than the combined total power capacity of Germany and Spain.
More Affordable Solar
The IEA notes that China, the United States, and much of the European Union have set records for the greatest number of solar facility installations in the past year.
China, in particular, was way in the lead; the Asian giant added between 180 and 230 gigawatts of solar-generated energy to its grid. On the other hand, solar use in Europe showed an increase of around 40% from the same time in 2022, as 58 gigawatts were added to the regional grid.
This more widespread adoption of solar power may be attributed to a significant decrease in the price of solar panels during the year. European solar prices, in particular, dropped by up to 53%, enabling more households to reduce their reliance on conventionally produced electricity by generating and storing their own.
Indeed, it is expected that solar may have already surpassed hydropower in terms of total capacity. However, given how hydropower can produce energy 24/7, it is unlikely that hydropower facilities are in danger of being shelved shortly.
Up with the Wind
Wind energy has also had a good year, and it is estimated that the amount of energy generated by wind farms is enough to power at least 80 million homes.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the fast-tracking of permits and major improvements in the sector have helped ease the way for the adoption of wind power, with China, India, and Germany all leading the way.
However, as of the end of 2023, installation of wind generation equipment in Europe fell by around 6%.