Wind and solar accounted for a record 12 percent of global power generation last year, according to a new analysis which finds that the rapid buildout of clean energy heralds “a new era of falling fossil generation.”
Wind energy added globally last year could nearly meet the power needs of the UK, while newly installed solar energy could meet the power demand of South Africa, according to the report from Ember, a UK-based clean energy think tank. Together, renewables and nuclear power accounted for 39 percent of global power generation last year, an all-time high.
At the same time, the report said, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered record high gas prices that have forever changed the perception of gas as secure, abundant and cheap.” Coal use grew slightly in Europe last year after Russia cut shipments of natural gas. Globally, coal power rose by a little more than 1 percent, while gas power fell slightly.
This year, the growth of clean power will likely outstrip the growth in demand, leading to a small drop in fossil power. “The fall will be small in 2023, but it will get bigger every year as wind and solar grow further, which could mean power sector emissions will never peak higher than they did in 2022,” the report said.
“In this decisive decade for the climate, it is the beginning of the end of the fossil age,” Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, a senior electricity analyst at Ember, said in a statement. “A new era of falling fossil emissions means the coal power phase down will happen, and the end of gas power growth is now within sight. Change is coming fast.”
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