Wind and solar hit a tenth of global electricity, but the global electricity transition needs to sustain very high growth rates to replace coal and reduce emissions.
Solar generation rose 23% last year, and wind by 14%. Combined, this takes them to more than 10% of global electricity generation. All clean electricity sources generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021, more than coal (36%).
To be on a pathway that keeps global heating to 1.5 degrees, wind and solar need to sustain high compound growth rates of 20% every year to 2030. That’s the same rate of growth as their average over the last decade.
This is now eminently possible: wind and solar are the lowest cost source of electricity on a levelised basis, with ever-increasing global experience of integrating them into grids at high levels. With 50 individual countries now generating more than 10% of their electricity from these quick-to-deploy resources, and three countries already generating over 40%, it is already clear that these technologies are delivering.
Governments like the US, Germany, UK and Canada are so confident in clean electricity that they are planning to shift their grid to 100% clean electricity within the next decade and a half. But with coal still rising and electricity demand continuing to increase, all governments with carbon intensive grids now need to act with that same boldness and ambition.
Wind and solar generated over a tenth (10.3%) of global electricity for the first time in 2021, rising from 9.3% in 2020, and twice the share compared to 2015 when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed (4.6%). Combined, clean electricity sources generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021, more than coal (36%).
Fifty countries have now crossed the 10% wind and solar landmark, with seven new countries in 2021 alone: China, Japan, Mongolia, Viet Nam, Argentina, Hungary and El Salvador. Three countries—the Netherlands, Australia and Viet Nam—shifted over 8% of their total electricity demand from fossil fuels to wind and solar in just the last two years.
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