Renewable Energy Breaks Electricity Output Records

Image by Keerati Ost from Getty Images

A report by climate think tank Ember states that a renewable energy boom has pushed worldwide electricity generation to its cleanest-ever level. Solar and wind energy contributed to 12% of the world’s power in 2022, up from 10% in 2021, with solar being the fastest-growing source for the 18th year in a row. The report also found that the increase in wind generation could have powered almost all of the UK. Ember’s senior electricity analyst and lead author of the research, Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, said that we are entering the clean power era, which will reshape the global economy from transport to industry and beyond.

Independent Climate Think Tank Ember

According to a report by independent climate think tank Ember, the global transition to renewable energy made great strides in 2022. The analysis, based on electricity data from 78 countries representing 93% of global power demand, found that wind and solar energy generated 12% of the world’s power, up from 10% in 2021.

The report also revealed that more than 60 countries now generate over 10% of their electricity from renewable sources. Despite these positive developments, coal remained the world’s largest source of electricity, accounting for 36% of global power. Researchers warn that the speed of wind and solar build-out is still not sufficient to meet rising energy demands, forcing reliance on fossil fuels and driving up emissions.

The main cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas. CEO and special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, Damilola Ogunbiyi, stressed that more needs to be done to ensure developing countries are not left behind and locked into high carbon futures. Ogunbiyi also highlighted that the fact that coal power remained the largest source of electricity worldwide in 2022 confirms that the power sector is off track to meet net-zero targets. Urgent and significant acceleration in wind and solar deployment is necessary.

According to a report by Ember, 2022 may have been the peak of electricity emissions and the final year of fossil power growth. The report noted that clean power is set to meet all demand growth in 2023. Fossil generation is projected to experience a 0.3% dip this year, with analysts expecting steeper falls in subsequent years as wind and solar deployment accelerates.

To reach net zero by 2040, the electricity sector needs to transition from the highest-emitting sector to the first sector to achieve net zero. Ember analysts stated that wind and solar must account for 41% of the global power mix by 2030, a significant increase from the 12% observed in 2022. Greenpeace East Asia’s Senior Policy Advisor, Li Shuo, noted that China’s electricity sector development is concerning, as the country is accelerating coal project approvals, which won’t help the country achieve its carbon neutrality vision.

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