As of May 2023, the race for clean energy finally has a frontrunner as solar investments overtake those for oil and fossil fuels. In findings released by the International Energy Agency, they’ve revealed that global spending on sustainable and clean energy has surpassed that of oil production by over $6 billion.
With a number of countries around the world investing in solar as a leading form of energy, the overall financial contribution towards renewable energy has been steadily increasing since 2021. As awareness of global warming, climate change and the danger of fossil fuels grows, there’s more pressure than ever on world leaders to make the right choice for their people.
Why are leaders prioritising solar energy in 2023?
With solar energy predicted to ‘displace fossil fuels from the entire global economy’ by 2050, it’s a positive step for a more sustainable future. But why is solar energy taking precedence over alternative fuels such as wind or water?
One of the most significant benefits of solar energy is its accessibility, both in price and in domestic adoption. Solar is cheap, and this makes it a prime energy source when compared to the rising prices of oil and gas around the world. It can be easily installed in domestic homes and businesses, it’s popular with common users and it’s reliable, with more industries than ever relying on solar than ever before.
Solar’s rise in popularity can also be attributed to its influence over affluent countries such as Australia, China and Paris. Australia in particular is currently sourcing around 70% of its energy from renewable sources - aided by the plentiful sunshine and solar capabilities it has access to.
Is it likely that oil will catch up?
There are many factors that can go into the use of oil over solar, largely reliant on economic progress and public demand. Whilst solar is cheap, it’s still a relatively unknown source of power for many LEDCs around the world, who rely heavily on fossil fuels like oil and gas to survive. These developing countries might be evolving in terms of the technology available to them, in the form of transport, home appliances, construction and security but an increased demand on electricity supplies is likely to lead to a reliance on fossil fuels, rather than renewables.
Without the surplus of funds to invest in clean energy sources, these countries will be forced to simply make use of what’s available - both geographically and financially. But the rise in electricity usage is also a problem facing more developed countries and economically advanced destinations too. Whilst electric vehicles and adaptations are a positive step towards widespread decarbonisation efforts, in certain spaces, the electricity demand is set to triple - requiring more resource than solar can currently provide.
What does this mean for the future of renewable energy?
The distribution of funds towards renewable energy is a great step in the right direction and a marker of positive change for the future of the planet. However, the gap between solar and oil investments needs to be larger to truly make a difference. The amount invested into fossil fuel production is still incredibly high and developing countries are still relying heavily on oil to fuel their societies.
More needs to be done to make solar an accessible and attainable source of fuel around the world, rather than just in the developed countries that can afford to use it. Solar has so much potential and it’s important that leaders recognise just where the bottleneck to success is located.
‘Solar energy has an endless amount of potential and it’s so important for interested parties to recognise its popularity in this race. The world’s awareness and adoption of alternative fuels is growing and it can only get better from here on out!’
Sam Dight, Chief Commercial Officer at Clean Energy Capital
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