The fate of fossil fuels


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In the future, human society will definitely say goodbye to fossil energy, which is certain, but the time is really difficult to judge. Recently, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) almost got into a war of words. The IEA and OPEC are both international authorities on the energy industry, but there is a big difference between the two on when human society will say goodbye to fossil fuels. Among them, the IEA is "optimistic", while OPEC is relatively "pessimistic", the two considerations, in addition to their own interests, but also the view of energy security. Energy security will be the decisive factor for clean energy to replace fossil energy.

At present, major countries and regions in the world have issued carbon neutral plans. If we want to achieve carbon neutrality, we must start now to develop clean energy. This is the consensus of the whole society. The development of clean energy is bound to bring about the decline of fossil energy. This decline is reflected first in investment, with global investment in wind, solar, and other transformational technologies reaching a record high of $1.1 trillion in 2022, and investment in low-carbon energy equaling investment in traditional oil and gas production for the first time. As a result, optimistic observers believe that demand for oil and gas will begin to decline within the next decade as clean energy continues to take off. Even the IEA's report, released this time, believes that global oil and gas demand will decline before 2030. Given that many developing countries have yet to complete their energy transition from coal to natural gas, this is a surprising statement.

Of course, clean energy is extremely important, and the scale and effectiveness of global clean energy development in recent years is beyond doubt. According to the Global Power Review's electricity data collected from 78 countries and regions around the world, the world's electricity generation in 2022 reached the cleanest level ever, wind and solar power generation growth reached a record high, accounting for 12% of the global total electricity generation, and renewables and nuclear energy combined accounted for 39% of global electricity generation. In addition, the electric vehicle industry is also rapidly developing, quickly replacing gasoline vehicles.

However, it remains to be seen how clean energy will perform in energy shortages and crises. From the situation of the European energy crisis in 2022, the current clean energy development in Europe is not enough to support its safe use of energy, but also needs to buy natural gas regardless of the cost, restart coal mines and other means to overcome the crisis. Given that Europe is almost the most developed region in the world for clean energy development, there is no reason to think that other regions will be able to rely on clean energy to survive a potential energy crisis in the coming years. In other words, even if we only consider energy, the reality of fossil energy as the last guarantee of energy security will remain for some time until the technology and scale of clean energy continue to innovate.

(From China Chemical News)

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