A global recession, volatile oil and natural gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and compelling evidence of climate change have resulted in a soaring demand for renewable energy (wind, solar, hydropower, etc.) around the world. Renewable energy is now forecast to pass coal and as the leading energy source in the world by 2025, according to the latest edition of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook.
It is important to recognize that the global demand for coal is declining for the following three reasons:
- Economics – The cost to generate power from renewable energy (solar, wind, and hydropower) is significantly cheaper than coal. In the United States, the cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of power from solar or wind.
- Ground Water Pollution – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are highly toxic. In 2019, coal ash was documented to have contaminated the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America. Studies in Europe has confirmed similar types of groundwater contamination.
- Climate Change – The burning of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) is the primary cause for global warming, which results in climate change. Coal generates 40% to 48% more greenhouse gases than natural gas, which is another type of fuel used to generate electricity in many countries around the world.
Where is major renewable energy project development booming? The answer is, every region in the world, although the reason is country dependent:
Middle East – Oil exporting countries, like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are aggressively developing massive solar projects to replace oil and natural gas power plants for domestic electricity generation. Why? To preserve their nation’s greatest natural resources for export. In 2020, Saudi Arabia exported U.S. $120.8 Billion in crude oil, refined petroleum, and petrochemicals.
Africa – Developing countries with very limited access to electricity, like Chad (11.1%), Burundi (11.7%), Burkina Faso (19.0%), and Madagascar (33.7%) are building small, low cost photovoltaic (PV) projects increase access to electricity for the people in their nation. Electricity is essential to run pumps in wells which provide potable water for the local communities.
Southeast Asia – Oil and gas exporting countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are developing massive solar projects for domestic power and for export by marine cables to the nation of Singapore. Similar to countries in the Middle East; Indonesia and Singapore want to preserve their nation’s oil and natural gas resources for export. The export of electricity from renewable energy has multi-billion dollar export potential for Indonesia and Malaysia.
Europe – On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, and South Korea placing embargos on Russian exports. Europe has been aggressively developing a new renewable energy projects to offset the loss of Russian natural gas imports.
South America – Countries with vast renewable energy resources of hydropower, wind, and solar, like Paraguay and Uruguay are actively developing new renewable energy projects to increase green energy electricity exports to neighboring countries, Argentina and Brazil. In 2020, electricity exports from renewable energy generated U.S. $1.73 Billion for Paraguay.
United States – The development of renewable projects are booming in almost every state in the nation. Massive offshore wind projects are being developed along the eastern seaboard. Wind and solar are booming in the Great Plains generating thousands of new jobs and reducing the cost of power for local residents. In 2005, only 8.8% of the United States electricity was from renewable energy. In 2021, renewables generated 19.8% of the nation’s electricity. Current data indicates that renewable energy will generate up to 50% of nation’s electricity by 2030.
The move to renewable energy is not a political perspectives. Nations around the world are moving from coal to renewable energy due to compelling economic, environmental, and climate change data. The IEA’s World Energy Outlook forecast appears to be a certainty.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.
 Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019
 The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Saudi Arabia
 The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Paraguay