Significant progress has been made in the renewable energy sector, with wind and solar power making up a substantial portion of global power production, accounting for almost one-quarter of noncarbon-emitting generation. This is a considerable improvement from just a decade ago when they produced less than 1% of total global electricity. Furthermore, wind and solar power are now often the long term, least cost options, making them an attractive investment for countries looking to decarbonize their energy systems.
Despite the growing momentum towards renewable energy, global coal-fired generation still totaled a record high in 2021, up by 8.5% from the previous year. The lion’s share of CO2 emissions still come from countries committed to becoming net-zero carbon in the next few decades. Nonetheless, this article suggests that a decarbonized global power system is still possible and the transition can be achieved at a low cost while maintaining high levels of reliability.
To support this clean energy transition, the article discusses the power sector reforms that are currently underway in India, China and Europe. Despite their different institutions, history and power system setups, these regions share some common trends: they rely heavily on planning and recognize the value of demand-side resources. These regions offer promising pathways for power sector reform and they provide hope for a decarbonized energy future.