Wind and solar generated 10% of the world’s electricity for the first time in 2021, according to a new study. According to Ember, a climate and energy think tank, fifty countries derive more than a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar sources. .
Increase in energy demand in 2021
Energy demand surged last year as global economies struggled to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, demand for electricity has reached a record high. Coal power grew at its fastest rate since 1985 throughout this period. According to the study, the increase in electricity demand last year was tantamount to adding a new India to the global system.
Increased share of clean energy in 2021
In 2021, solar, wind and other clean energy sources produced 38% of the world’s electricity. For the first time, wind turbines and solar panels have combined to create 10% of the total energy. Since 2015, when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed, the share of energy produced by the wind and the sun has more than doubled.
The Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam were among the countries that made the fastest transitions to wind and solar. In the past two years, all three have shifted a tenth of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to renewables.
Increase in the use of fossil energy in Asian countries, including India and China
As energy demand increased, much of it was met by fossil fuels, with coal-fired electricity increasing by 9%. Much of the growth in coal use has occurred in Asian countries like China and India; however, the increase in coal consumption has not been accompanied by an increase in gas consumption of only 1% globally, showing that rising gas prices have made coal a more viable energy source.
Despite coal picking up in 2021, major economies like the US, UK, Germany and Canada plan to move to 100% electricity grids within the next 15 years, experts say. Concerns about limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius this century have prompted this change.
Wind and solar power are expected to grow at a rate of around 20% each year until 2030, scientists say. This is now “completely feasible”, according to the authors of this study. Indeed, on a leveled basis, wind and solar are the cheapest sources of electricity, with growing global experience in integrating into grids at high levels. It is clear that these technologies are delivering results, with 50 countries currently generating more than 10% of their electricity from these rapidly deploying resources, and three countries already generating more than 40%.