BusinessDay

Solar, wind power account for 29% global rise in 2021 energy demand-Report

In a world-first, a report by Ember, United Kingdom-based climate and energy think tank, shows wind and solar, the fastest-growing sources of electricity, generate 29 percent of global rise in 2021 electricity demand.

As the world’s economies rebounded from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, demand for energy grew at a record pace.

According to the 2022 renewable energy report by Ember, Only a 29 percent of the global rise in electricity demand in 2021 was met with wind and solar. “Other clean electricity provided no growth, with nuclear and hydro levels unchanged for two years.”

The report noted that the remaining demand increase was therefore met by fossil fuels. “59 percent of the electricity demand rise in 2021 was met by coal generation alone.”

“Fifty countries generated more than one-tenth of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, including all five of the world’s largest economies – the US, China, Japan, Germany, and the UK,” Ember’s report showed.

The report showed seven new countries passed the landmark for the first time in 2021: China, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Argentina, Hungary, and El Salvador.

“We’re getting closer to that break-even where wind and solar can cover new electricity demand, but we are still not quite there. If we maintain those growth rates we see, we will be there shortly,” Ember’s global lead Dave Jones said.

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The Ember report showed solar and wind and other clean sources generated 38 percent of the world’s electricity in 2021. For the first time wind turbines and solar panels generated 10 percent of the total.

The share coming from wind and sun has doubled since 2015, when the Paris climate agreement was signed.

The fastest switching to wind and solar 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 last two years.

“The Netherlands is a great example of a more northern latitude country proving that it’s not just where the Sun shines, it’s also about having the right policy environment that makes the big difference in whether solar takes off,” said Hannah Broadbent from Ember.

Vietnam also saw spectacular growth, particularly in solar which rose by over 300 percent in just one year.

“In the case of Vietnam, there was a massive step up in solar generation and it was driven by feed-in tariffs – money the government pays you for generating electricity – which made it very attractive for households and for utilities to be deploying large amounts of solar,” said Dave Jones, Ember’s global lead.

“What we saw with that was a massive step up in solar generation last year, which didn’t just meet increased electricity demand, but it also led to a fall in both coal and gas generation.”

Despite the growth and the fact that some countries like Denmark now get more than 50 percent of their electricity from wind and solar, coal power also saw a remarkable rise in 2021.

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