Climate change: Wind and solar power approach a watershed moment as demand surges

Image credit: QS Study

According to a new study, wind and solar-generated 10% of global electricity for the first time in 2021.

Fifty countries, according to Ember, a climate and energy think tank, get more than a tenth of their energy from wind and solar sources. Energy demand surged as the world’s economies recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

According to the study, the increase in demand for electricity last year was equivalent to adding a new India to the global system.

In 2021, solar, wind, and other clean energy sources produced 38 per cent of the world’s electricity. For the first time, wind turbines and solar panels combined to create 10% of total energy.

The Netherlands, Australia, and Vietnam were among the countries that made the most rapid transitions to wind and solar power. All three have moved a tenth of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to renewables in the last two years.

Coal-fired power surged at the fastest rate since 1985, accounting for a considerable portion of the increased demand for electricity in 2021.

Much of the growth in coal use occurred in Asian countries such as China and India. However, the increase in coal was not matched by an increase in gas use of only 1% globally, showing that rising gas prices have made coal a more viable source of energy.

Despite coal’s recovery in 2021, major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada are planning to switch to 100% coal-fired power grids within the next 15 years, according to experts.

Concerns about limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius this century have prompted this shift.

Wind and solar power must develop at a rate of roughly 20% every year until 2030, according to scientists.

The conflict in Ukraine may also give a boost to alternative energy sources that aren’t reliant on Russian oil and gas shipments.