The Renewable Energy Paradox: Exceptional Growth Yet a Persistent Reliance on Fossil Fuels

The Renewable Energy Paradox: Exceptional Growth Yet a Persistent Reliance on Fossil Fuels

The Rapid Ascent of Renewable Energy

In the year 2023, wind and solar technologies emerged as more than mere contributors to the global energy mix; they became titanic forces in renewable energy, accounting for an impressive 12% of global electricity [4]. Furthermore, in a remarkable milestone, wind energy production reached one terawatt this year—nearly equivalent to the entire installed energy capacity of the United States, standing at 1.2 terawatts.

Yet, juxtaposed against these monumental strides is a sobering revelation: The United Nations’ inaugural global stocktake on climate change suggests our transition away from fossil fuels remains markedly insufficient.

Asia’s Uncooperative Affinity for Coal 

The data paints an unequivocal picture. Since 2010, the utilisation of coal and natural gas—the principal culprits in carbon emissions—has surged by 22% and 37%, respectively. These fossil fuels persist as the underpinning elements in global energy infrastructure, especially in Asia where the insatiable appetite for coal fuels burgeoning economies. [1]

However, this narrative is not universally disheartening. A considerable reduction in coal-fired power plants is underway on a global scale. The United States, in particular, has initiated the decommissioning of ageing coal facilities, driven by the financial viability of shale gas and the regulatory impact of the Inflation Reduction Act. [1]

The Western Trajectory Towards Renewable Energy

In contrast, OECD nations are witnessing a tangible shift away from coal dependency. Notably, the United Kingdom has resolved to discontinue coal-generated electricity by October 2024. [1]

Simultaneously, renewable sources like wind and solar are becoming increasingly consequential in Western nations. In Australia, solar panel and battery configurations have proven to be 30% more cost-effective than their gas-fired counterparts during peak demand periods. [1]

A Recalibration in Attitude

Nevertheless, incremental changes are afoot. The commitments from China and India to ‘phase down’ coal usage, as articulated at the 2021 Glasgow Climate Summit, signify a prospective recalibration of their energy strategies.

The Imperative for Accelerated Transformation

The International Energy Agency (IEA) posits an encouraging forecast: virtually all new energy demand up to the year 2025 is expected to be fulfilled by renewable energy, predominantly wind and solar. [3]

In spite of these optimistic projections, the urgency underscored in the UN’s report must not be overlooked. The requisite transition to renewable energy demands not just continuity, but an escalated momentum. The demand of the situation is not merely academic—it is a clear call that brooks no delay.


  1.  Coal: Analysis and Forecast to 2025


  1. EMBER. Electricity Data Explorer. 


  1. IEA: URL:
  1. EMBER:Global Electricity Review 2023