Fifty countries get more than a tenth of their energy from wind and solar sources, according to research by Ember , a climate and energy think tank.
- As world economies recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, energy demand soared.
- Electricity demand grew at a record pace. This saw a rise in coal power, increasing at the fastest rate since 1985.
Research shows that the growth in electricity need last year was equivalent to adding a new India to the global grid.
Solar, wind and other clean sources generated 38% of global electricity in 2021. For the first time, wind turbines and solar panels generated 10% of the total.
The proportion coming from wind and sun has doubled since 2015, when the Paris climate agreement was signed.
Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam
The fastest switch to wind and solar power took place in the Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam . All three have moved a tenth of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to green sources in the past two years.
“The Netherlands is a great example of a more northern latitude country that shows that it’s not just where the sun shines, it’s also about having the right policy environment that makes the big difference in getting energy off the ground.”solar” said Hannah Broadbent of Ember.
Vietnam also saw strong growth, particularly in solar energy, which increased by more than 300% in just one year.
“In the case of Vietnam, there was a massive increase in solar generation and it was driven by feed-in tariffs (money the government pays to generate electricity), which made it very attractive to households and to utility companies. implement large amounts of solar power,” said Dave Jones, global leader at Ember.
“What we saw with that was a massive increase in solar generation last year, which not only ensured the increased demand for electricity, but also caused a drop in coal and gas generation.”
Despite the growth and the fact that some countries like Denmark now get more than 50% of their electricity from wind and solar power, coal power also saw a notable increase in 2021.
A vast majority of the increase in electricity demand in 2021 was met by fossil fuels, with coal-fired electricity rising 9%, the fastest rate since 1985.
Much of the increase in coal use occurred in Asian countries, including China and India, but the increase in coal was not matched by gas use, which increased globally by only 1%, indicating that the increase of gas prices made coal a more viable source of electricity.
The researchers say that despite a coal resurgence in 2021, major economies, including the US, UK, Germany and Canada, aim to switch their grids to 100% carbon-free electricity within the next 15 years. .
- This change is being driven by concerns about keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C this century.
- To do that, scientists say wind and solar power need to grow by around 20% each year until 2030.
The war in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine could also give a boost to electricity sources that do not depend on Russian imports of oil and gas.
“Wind and solar power have arrived and offer a solution to the multiple crises the world is facing, whether it’s a climate crisis or dependence on fossil fuels, this could be a real game changer,” said Hannah Broadbent.