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Global Power Sector Emissions Headed for Decline

⁠The power sector is the biggest source of emissions globally, but the rapid growth of wind, solar, and nuclear generation are at last pushing power sector emissions into decline, analysts say.

Coal power likely peaked in 2023, as did power sector emissions, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency, which mirrors other recent analysis.

Globally, wind, solar, and nuclear power are growing faster than power demand. This is particularly remarkable, analysts note, because electricity demand is rising rapidly as consumers swap out fossil fuel-powered cars and heaters for electric cars and heat pumps. Electricity accounts for a growing share of energy consumed worldwide.

By 2025, renewables will overtake coal as the largest source of electricity, and by 2026, the world will draw roughly half of its electricity from wind, solar, nuclear, and other low-carbon generation. Driving these trends is the speedy buildout of clean energy in China, which will account for more than half of renewable power coming online over the next three years.

As China faces economic headwinds — with a downturn in real estate, weak spending, and high youth unemployment — clean energy is proving to be a major engine of growth. The shift to low-carbon energy, including everything from renewable power to batteries to railways, accounted for 40 percent of China’s economic growth last year, more than any other sector, according to an analysis from CarbonBrief.

“Clean technology has been an important part of China’s energy policy, industrial strategy, and climate change efforts for a long time,” analysts wrote. “Last year marked the first time that the sector also became a key economic driver for the country.”

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