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From fossil energy generation to renewables

The term energy transition refers to overarching and pervasive change in an energy system. In the past, it has been applied to local changes, but from the advent of industrialization onwards, these shifts have increasingly become global. After various transitions from one set of fossil fuels to another over the course of the past century, there is currently a concerted effort to switch to renewable energy sources. To effectively reduce emissions, slow climate change and reduce the environmental impact of energy production, international initiatives at all levels of public life are necessary.

What has global energy transition achieved?

An energy transition to renewable sources has become the desired goal of governments around the world and is widely considered the ultimate path to a carbon-neutral future. Many countries are already implementing a switch to sustainable energy technologies, others have set ambitious targets or are planning a national energy transition. Renewable energies are currently estimated to make up a quarter of global electricity generation.

What’s next for global energy transition?

According to the International Energy Agency, the share of renewables in meeting global energy demand is expected to grow by one-fifth by 2023. In the electricity sector, they will provide almost 30% of power demand. The largest renewable source is hydropower (meeting 16% of global electricity demand by 2023), followed by wind (6%), solar PV (4%), and bioenergy (3%). However, an increased focus on other sectors, such as transport, heat, and industry, will be necessary to complete a successful energy transition. In addition, the resilience of energy systems needs to be examined to ensure energy efficiency and security of supply.

global share of renewable energy 2020
global share of renewable heat 2020
global share of renewable transport 2020

Decarbonizing the energy system

There is no way around it – we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming in check. Global energy demand, however, keeps growing. Switching to carbon-free renewables is a complex process which demands innovation and skillful applications.

Learn more about transforming the energy system

Power-to-X supporting the energy transition

The rise of renewables is good for the planet. Converting renewable electricity into storable fuels spreads the benefit of carbon-neutral energy across sectors. The power-to-X process allows for just that. It is a transformation technology that converts electricity into carbon-neutral synthetic fuels, which can then be used in other sectors or be stored until needed.

Learn more about power-to-x

The energy transition should not only be an electricity transition. The major challenges are currently clearly in transportation and in the building sector.

Matthias Zelinger, energy policy expert from the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association