Wind and solar power, the rapidly growing sources of electricity, touched a record 10% of global electricity in 50 countries in 2021, reports a new analysis by energy think tank Ember. All forms of clean, non-fossil energy generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021, leaving coal behind at 36%.
Renewable energy is critical to reducing carbon emissions and meeting our climate goals, and ramping up is crucial in the context. Energy demand surged as the world’s economies strived to recover from the global pandemic in the last year. The electricity demand rose in the backdrop. Coal, in particular, surged to new heights, after years of decline. The global power sector’s emissions also surged as fossil fuels witnessed an increase. The emissions amplified and surpassed the previous record in 2018 by 3%.
In 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed, wind and solar could generate around 4.6% of the world’s electricity. Today, the share touched around 10.3%. The growth is attributed to technological advancements, which have also helped curb the costs of wind and solar energy.
Despite the commitment to achieve net-zero by 2050, oil producers have still not met the emissions reduction targets for 2030 in line with the Paris Agreement. In this context, Dave Jones, global electricity analyst for Ember, highlighted that average growth of 20% a year in the total wind and solar energy generation was observed. However, he reiterated that to be on the pathway for 1.5°C (34.7°F), we need to see that same 20% through the decade.
Furthermore, the energy crisis spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put another spotlight on coal and gas, with both fossil fuels seeing rising prices. Jones stated that the crisis could incentivize countries to expand their wind and solar so that they don’t have to import those fuels and have their home-grown electricity.
He highlighted that there is a need to keep the momentum with this 10% milestone for wind and solar. Jones added that all renewable technologies need to be scaled up to fill energy gaps. He also noted that the next step is speeding up implementation, which is in the hands of governments as gatekeepers to make sure it happens and all that potential comes through.