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, according to a new climate change report.
Renewables are now due to meet all growth in demand this year, a new study titled the Global Electricity Review 2023, claimed today.
The report says “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 per cent.
“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.
“It also accelerated electrification: more heat pumps, more electric vehicles, more electrolysers. These will drive reductions in emissions for other sectors, and will put more pressure to build clean power more quickly.”
Breakdown of clean power for electricity
Wind and solar power now produce 12 per cent of global electricity, with enough wind turbines added worldwide last year to power almost all of the UK.
Around the world, solar grew by 24 per cent last year, enough to meet the annual demands of a country as big as South Africa.
Taken together with nuclear and hydropower, clean sources produced 39 per cent of global electricity in 2022.
This means energy produced last year was effectively the cleanest ever made.
Why is this shift happening?
Ember attributes this to a boom in renewable energy, chiefly powered by China – which added around 40 per cent of the world’s new solar panels last year, with large numbers of rooftop installations
Making electricity is the largest contributor to global warming, responsible for over a third of energy-related carbon emissions in 2021.
However, it believes a new era of falling power sector emissions is “very close.”
It said: “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.
“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 study looked at data from 78 countries representing 93 per cent of global electricity demand.