New Delhi, March 30
A report published on Wednesday reveals that wind and solar, the fastest-growing sources of electricity, reached a record 10 per cent of global electricity in 2021.
The milestone has now been reached by 50 countries around the world. Overall, clean sources generated 38 per cent of the world's electricity in 2021, more than coal (36 per cent).
"Wind and solar have arrived," said Ember's global lead Dave Jones. "The process that will reshape the existing energy system has begun. This decade they need to be deployed at lightning speed to reverse global emissions increases and tackle climate change."
Ember's third annual Global Electricity Review was released alongside all the underlying data. The dataset and report cover electricity generation for 209 countries from 2000 to 2020, with the latest data for 2021 for 75 countries representing 93 per cent of global power demand.
The report reveals that 50 countries generated more than a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, including all five of the world's largest economies.
Seven new countries passed the landmark for the first time in 2021: China, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Argentina, Hungary, and El Salvador. Across the world, the share of wind and solar has doubled since 2015 when the Paris Agreement was signed.
The fastest transformation is happening in the Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam, which have seen around a tenth of electricity demand switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar in just the last two years.
Ten countries generated more than a quarter of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, led by Denmark at 52 per cent, demonstrating that high levels of variable renewables can be successfully integrated into the grid.
Electricity demand rebounded after the pandemic to the largest ever annual increase in 2021 (plus 1,414 TWh), the equivalent of adding a new India to the world's electricity demand.
Despite record growth in wind and solar generation, they only met 29 per cent of the global increase in electricity demand in 2021, with the rest met by fossil fuels.
As a result, in 2021, coal power saw the fastest growth since at least 1985 (plus nine per cent), rising to a new all-time high of 10,042 TWh. The record rise in coal was not matched by global gas generation, which increased by only one per cent in 2021.
The increase in fossil fuels pushed global power sector CO2 emissions to an all-time high, beating the previous record in 2018 by three per cent.
Wind and solar generation grew by 17 per cent in 2021. To get the power sector on track for 1.5 degrees, wind and solar need to sustain compound growth rates of 20 per cent every year to 2030, which was the average rate of growth over the last decade.
"Clean electricity now needs to be built on a heroic scale," said Jones. "Leaders are only just waking up to the challenge of how quickly they need to move 100 per cent clean electricity."