Wind and solar now generate record 12% of global electricity

Alina Oprea
Wind turbines and solar panels were responsible for a record 12% of global electricity production last year, up from 10% in 2021, but they are still far behind coal, which remains the world's main source of electricity, shows a report published by independent energy think tank Ember. The conclusion reached by the experts of the think tank is that all sources of renewable energy plus nuclear energy were responsible for 39% of the world's electricity production last year, a record level according to the authors of the report, the rest being covered by fossil fuels (natural gas, oil, coal).

Ember's annual global electricity review takes data from 78 countries which account for 93% of global electricity demand.

The authors predict a phasedown of gas power and a reduction of coal-fired power, forecasting that fossil fuel generation will decline by 0.3% this year.

Electricity is as clean as ever, with the share of solar power rising by 24% and wind by 17% from 2021. Solar and wind energy now comprise over 10% of electricity in more than 60 countries.

The European Union gets 22% of its electricity from wind and solar power However, EU countries seem to lag behind global wind energy expansion, logging 9% growth from wind power — below the global average.

"The EU started the race to renewables early but, as the world accelerates, it cannot afford complacency," said Sarah Brown, Ember's Europe program lead.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year caused concern among EU member states about declining fossil fuel imports. The European Commission put forward a plan to increase renewable energy to 45%, an increase of 5% compared to the previous year.

Despite a global gas crisis, the analysis found that gas-fired power declined by 0.2% last year due to the high prices making it more unaffordable to use the fuel.

Russia's drastic cut in gas imports has prompted countries like Germany to restart coal-powered plants and receive liquefied natural gas shipments from abroad. Meanwhile, Germany is pledging to use more renewable sources of energy and has been "a world leader" in the deployment of onshore wind, according to Ember's report.

In the last five years, however, Germany has installed only a third of the capacity for wind power it added annually in the four years before that. The main causes are not having enough available land for construction, slow licensing procedures, and investor uncertainty.

Ember's Sarah Brown said that "the barriers preventing the rapid deployment of onshore wind power must be removed" to reach the EU's targets by 2030. 

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Green Forum  |  15 July, 2024 at 11:00 AM
Green Forum  |  15 July, 2024 at 10:00 AM