From our bird's-eye view of the renewable energy industry, we often see positive developments for humanity before they become common knowledge. The purpose of this blog is to highlight the clean energy innovations and sustainability actions that are legitimate cause for optimism despite the very real threats to people and the environment posed by climate damage.
by ReVision Energy co-founder Phil Coupe
Did you know that more than 25% of total U.S. electricity generation came from renewable sources in the first half of 2023, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA)? At the same time, sales of electric vehicles, heat pumps, and battery storage systems continue to break records both domestically and abroad, signaling that the clean energy transition is rapidly moving past the so-called 5% ‘tipping point’ of penetration into widespread adoption.
But what is happening to humankind’s voracious appetite for fossil fuels as a result?
Sinopec, the biggest oil company in China, announced last week that peak gasoline demand has already occurred in China due to the country’s unexpected explosive growth of electric vehicle sales. As Chinese consumers rapidly pivot away from internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles, the country is trying to figure out what to do with its enormous ICE manufacturing capacity.
Similarly, Bloomberg recently reported that demand for gasoline and diesel for transport has already peaked in the United States and Europe and is now on the decline as drivers ditch ICE vehicles in favor of electric and hybrid electric cars.
We think declining demand for fossil fuels is rational cause for optimism about the prospects for a near-term clean energy future that can help mitigate the negative impacts of more than 150 years of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Faith Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency recently said, “we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era.”
30 years ago, energy forecasters were preoccupied with another “peak” concern about when we would run out of fossil fuels. Worry about “peak oil” (the point at which known global reserves would begin a precipitous decline) turned out to be misplaced because fossil fuel reserves steadily expanded in the ensuing decades as evolving technology enhanced the ability to detect undiscovered reserves deep underground and underwater, as well as the ability to harvest hard-to-get reserves trapped in shale formations. So-called ‘hydro-fracking’ of oil and gas wells has drastically extended the life of wells that were thought to be dry, but at the price of serious environmental damage; fracking requires pumping enormous quantities of water and chemicals into shale formations to crack loose the remaining oil and gas.
But make no mistake, with 8 billion people needing energy to power their lives, the end of global reserves of coal, oil, and gas is within one or two generations:Although coal, oil, and gas have profoundly transformed life on earth over the past 150 years, the plain truth is that we have to kick our fossil fuel habit. Whether you are motivated by anthropogenic climate damage, geopolitical conflict, national security, or just plain old fossil fuel scarcity, it is now time to embrace beneficial electrification for the benefit of present and future generations.