The world is on course for the first annual drop in the use of coal, oil, and gas to generate electricity outside of a global recession or pandemic, as a new climate change report says clean energy accounted for more than a third of global electricity in 2023.
The Ember Global Electricity Review 2023 report said 2022 will be remembered as a turning point in the world’s transition to clean power, with non-fossil fuel-based energy sources now accounting for almost 40 percent.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made many governments rethink their plans amid spiking fossil fuel prices and security concerns about relying on fossil fuel imports.”
According to the report, “it also accelerated electrification: more heat pumps, more electric vehicles, more electrolyzers. These will drive reductions in emissions for other sectors, and will put more pressure on us to build clean power more quickly.”
Breakdown of clean power for electricity
As of last year, there were enough new wind turbines installed worldwide to supply electricity to virtually all of the UK. Wind and solar power now account for 12 percent of all electricity produced globally.
Last year saw a 24 percent global increase in solar energy, which was enough to cover South Africa’s annual needs.
Taken together with nuclear and hydropower, clean sources produce 39 percent of global electricity in 2022.
This indicates that the energy produced last year was the cleanest ever.
Why is this shift happening?
The report explains that this is a result of growth in renewable energy, primarily driven by China, which installed a lot of solar panels on rooftops and added around 40 percent of the world’s new solar panels last year.
The production of electricity is the largest contributor to global warming and was responsible for over a third of energy-related carbon emissions in 2021, but analysts believe a new era of falling power sector emissions is “very close.”
“Wind and solar will need to maintain high growth rates this decade, even as they mature. More growth is needed from all other clean electricity sources, while more attention to efficiency is needed to avoid runaway growth in electricity demand,” the report stated.
“Urgent work is needed on ensuring wind and solar can be integrated into the grid: planning permissions, grid connections, grid flexibility, and market design,” the report stated.