Renewables Now Account For 30% Of Global Electricity Output

Global solar and wind energy now account for 30 percent of overall worldwide electricity generation, according to a report by global energy think tank Ember.

Since 2000, renewables have expanded from 19 percent to more than 30 percent of global electricity, driven by an increase in solar and wind from 0.2 percent in 2000 to a record 13.4 percent in 2023.

“As a result, the CO2 intensity of global power generation reached a new record low in 2023, 12 percent lower than its peak in 2007,” an Ember press release informed.

The report informed that the rapid growth in solar and wind has brought the world to a crucial turning point where fossil generation starts to decline at a global level.

The Global Electricity Review provides the first comprehensive overview of the global power system in 2023 based on country-level data.

The review covers 80 countries representing 92 percent of global electricity demand, as well as historic data from 215 countries.

“The renewables future has arrived,” said Dave Jones, Ember’s director of global insights. “Solar in particular is accelerating faster than anyone thought possible.”

Solar was the main supplier of electricity growth, adding more than twice as much new electricity generation as coal in 2023.

Solar maintained its status as the fastest-growing electricity source for the nineteenth consecutive year, and surpassed wind to become the largest source of new electricity for the second year running.

Renewable generation growth could have been even higher in 2023, but hydropower generation reached a five-year low amid droughts in China and other parts of the world.

Under normal conditions, the clean capacity added during 2023 would have been enough to enable a 1.1 percent fall in fossil generation.

However, the shortfall in hydropower was met by an increase in coal generation, which led to a 1 percent increase in global power sector emissions.

95 percent of the coal generation growth in 2023 occurred in four countries that were severely affected by droughts like China, India, Vietnam and Mexico.

The report shows that clean electricity growth gives confidence that a new era of falling power sector emissions is about to begin, with a projected 2 percent drop in global fossil generation in 2024.

Already clean electricity has helped to slow the growth in fossil fuels by almost two-thirds in the last ten years. As a result, half the world’s economies are at least five years past a peak in fossil power.

“The decline of power sector emissions is now inevitable. 2023 was likely the pivot point. But the pace of emissions falls depends on how fast the renewables revolution continues,” Jones added.

At the UN’s COP28 climate change conference in December, world leaders reached a historic agreement to triple global renewables capacity by 2030.

The target would see the world reach 60 percent renewable electricity by 2030, which would almost halve power sector emissions and put the world on a pathway aligned with the 1.5® climate goal.

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