This week I am bringing a little bit of relief to everyone’s eco-anxiety. When we are wrapped up in the news cycle and scared about the future, we tend to forget about our history. In school, we’re drilled about dates certain leaders were in power, when the conquest of a country happened, and the progress of revolutions. We only gloss over the progression of human civilization over time. It’s something we all know happened, but during the day-to-day, it doesn’t surface up to relieve our worries.
Let me remind you, our energy supply did not always come from fossil fuels. At the very beginning, we burned wood and dried animal dung for heat and relied on horses and oxen to carry the heavy loads. It wasn’t until the 1700s that we started using coal to power machines and factories. Today? Seven coal companies in the U.S. have declared bankruptcy this year alone. The history of fossil fuels only recently began in the 1800s, and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the fossil fuel industry is the next in line to crash.
The IEA monitors energy usage all around the world. The agency formed after the oil crisis in 1973 and now works to keep energy supplies stable worldwide. Although the IEA started to include renewable energy sources in its reports over the last few years, many called the agency out for not taking renewables seriously. The IEA often claimed that renewables were not going to make an impact on the energy market, all the while inflating the future of fossil fuels. However, at the end of October, the IEA released a report that shows the start of the renewable energy revolution. The IEA went as far as to say that offshore wind energy has “remarkable potential.”
The report starts by shedding light on the current state of the global offshore wind market. According to the IEA, the market grew almost by 30% over the last eight years, which is nothing compared to the agency’s prediction. Per the IEA, if governments invested in renewable offshore wind farms, there is a potential for 420 000 TWh generated worldwide every year. This is 18 times more electricity generated than there is a demand for today. Not only that, but the IEA also predicts that with falling installation costs and improved technology by 2040, the global wind farm industry will be worth $1 trillion. This means that the world has a chance to be entirely powered by clean, renewable energy.
As of today, the European Union and China are leading the world in the race to the future of energy. China is expected to grow its offshore wind farms 26 times by 2040. According to the IEA analysis, the U.S. will still be falling behind and not even grazing half of the wind farm capacity as the EU and China by 2040. However, these predictions can change. It is in our hands to elect a leader this next November that will make our planet their priority. With every passing day, our technology improves a little bit more; history is continuing to be made. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Photo: Graph via IEA, Wind farm by Dominic Alves via Flickr