According to a new report by Ember, solar and wind energy generation grew by 29% to cover the new energy demand. As a result, it reached a truly impressive milestone of producing 10% of the world’s total energy in 2021.
While this might sound extremely positive, it’s not as good as it sounds. For example, while solar and wind were used to cover 29% of new energy demand, that also means that 71% came from other sources. One of the biggest is coal as it saw a 9% increase in 2021.
As the overall demand for electricity increased by five percent, the emissions increased by seven percent. While these changes do solidify wind and solar as a huge part of the global energy supply, it also highlights how much more work is needed.
Most importantly, it comes at a time when the world must seriously start transitioning to renewables or risk irreversible climate change.
Solar And Wind Growth Likely To Continue
The report does highlight that solar, wind, and other renewable sources are likely to continue their growth. It even highlights the invasion of Ukraine as a significant reason it will grow faster than previously expected.
Europe is likely to rely more heavily on renewables as it begins stopping the import of Russian oil.
Individually, wind energy generation grew by 14%, while solar grew by a staggering 23%. Combined, that’s a 17% average growth for 2021. While that is significant, it’s worth highlighting that this was the first time they failed to increase by 20%.
For reference, solar and wind grew by 20% on average for the last decade. This is most likely due to the fact that the total capacity has increased substantially. To continue to grow at 20% on a yearly basis is insane and likely not possible to continue.
That should not be mistaken as a slowdown; it’s just mathematics.
The report also highlighted that more than 50 countries were producing at least 10% of their energy from solar and wind. With just ten nations generating a quarter (25%) of their energy from these renewable sources.
Overall, there are some positive trends to be excited about, but it wasn’t all favorable.
Coal Growth Is Very Concerning
One of the big sticking points of the report is that while solar and wind are growing, so is coal.
Specifically, the report highlights that China saw its energy demand increase by 13% in a single year! To handle that increase, it saw a 9% rise in its coal usage. And China isn’t the only culprit when it comes to coal.
Other nations that saw significant coal usage increases include India (11%), Kazakhstan (+6%), Mongolia (+13%), Pakistan (+8%), and the Philippines (+8%).
There are also concerns that some European nations will look to coal as an acceptable alternative to Russian oil as nations try to move away from Russian oil. When you combine all of these increases, you get a very alarming increase in emissions.
The decisions made in the next few years will be the most impactful in achieving global climate goals.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.