`Report: Solar and Wind Power Production Must Accelerate to Meet U.N. Climate Goals - Olive Oil Times

Report: Solar and Wind Power Production Must Accelerate to Meet U.N. Climate Goals

May. 3, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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A grow­ing num­ber of coun­tries are accel­er­at­ing their tran­si­tion to green energy, accord­ing to the Global Electricity Report 2022.

In 2021, 38 per­cent of global elec­tric­ity was pro­duced by wind and solar gen­er­a­tion. In total, 50 coun­tries pro­duce at least 10 per­cent of their elec­tric­ity through wind and solar tech­nolo­gies.

The major out­come of the report is warn­ing that coun­tries need to reach clean power gen­er­a­tion by 2035… To get there, the biggest assets are wind and solar.- Elisabeth Cremona, energy and cli­mate data ana­lyst, Ember

Momentum is build­ing, but the report, which Ember, a think tank, com­piled, said this pace must accel­er­ate to effi­ciently cur­tail green­house gas (GHG) emis­sions and pre­vent the worst-case cli­mate change sce­nar­ios from com­ing to fruition.

Despite the grow­ing share of renew­ables, Ember warned that this growth was not off­set­ting fos­sil fuels, the con­sump­tion of which also con­tin­ues to grow.

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Wind and solar will be the back­bone of the elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion sys­tem in the future; there is no doubt about that,” Elisabeth Cremona, an energy and cli­mate data ana­lyst at Ember, told Olive Oil Times. That hap­pens as renew­ables will be increas­ingly rel­e­vant to elec­tric­ity pro­duc­tion and, among them, wind and solar will play the most rel­e­vant role.”

Global solar gen­er­a­tion rose 23 per­cent in 2021, faster growth than at any point in the past 17 years. In this period, solar energy pro­duc­tion capac­ity increased from 188 ter­awatt-hour (TWh) to 1,023 TWh.

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In 2015, solar power cov­ered 1.1 per­cent of the global elec­tric­ity demand and in 2021 it met 3.7 per­cent of the world’s elec­tric­ity needs.

Ember researchers noted how in order to reach cli­mate goals, that per­cent­age should rise to 19 per­cent by 2030, which means solar power should grow 24 per­cent every year of this decade.

Given that it grew 23 per­cent in 2020 and aver­aged 33 per­cent over the last 10 years, experts believe the tar­get is within reach.

On a global scale, wind power grew in 2021 more quickly than ever before, ris­ing 14 per­cent and bring­ing total elec­tric­ity out­put to 1,814 TWh. After solar, wind has been the fastest grow­ing source of elec­tric­ity dur­ing the past year and now accounts for 6.6 per­cent of total elec­tric­ity com­pared with the 3.5 per­cent reported in 2015.

According to Ember, coal gen­er­a­tion in 2021 is also sub­stan­tially ris­ing, being 10 per­cent higher when com­pared to 2015, the year 192 coun­tries agreed to cur­tail GHG emis­sions as they signed the Paris Agreement.

In 2021, Ember noted how car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from the power sec­tor rose by 7 per­cent, which is the largest absolute rise ever.

Ember warned that coal power should fall by 13 per­cent every year dur­ing the cur­rent decade to meet cli­mate tar­gets set by the United Nations sum­mits on cli­mate change, which means reduc­ing the role of coal power glob­ally from 36 per­cent to 8 per­cent by 2030.

However, in the six years since the Paris Agreement was signed, China, the world’s largest burner of coal, has seen its share of coal-fired power rise by 33 per­cent. By com­par­i­son, this fig­ure has fallen by 8 per­cent in the rest of the world.

At the same time, China has the most sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment in wind farms, which grew 65 per­cent in 2021, adding 148 TWh, roughly enough elec­tric­ity to power Argentina.

While the coun­try is quickly adopt­ing renew­ables and clean energy sources, the growth of the elec­tric­ity demand is ris­ing at an even faster pace. As a result, coal con­tin­ues to fill the gap, meet­ing 64 per­cent of the elec­tric­ity demand rise.

The major out­come of the report is warn­ing that coun­tries need to reach clean power gen­er­a­tion by 2035 if the global cli­mate tar­get of a 1.5 ºC sur­face tem­per­a­ture rise is to be met,” Cremona said. To get there, the biggest assets are wind and solar, and there­fore those should inform global poli­cies in the energy sec­tor.”

Electricity demand rise is fueled by three main fac­tors,” she added. The first being the recov­ery from the Covid-19 pan­demic. The sec­ond is that many economies, espe­cially in Asia and not only China, are sus­tain­ing an eco­nomic boom, which fuels elec­tric­ity demand growth.”

The third ele­ment is elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, actu­ally being part of decar­boniza­tion solu­tions,” Cremona con­tin­ued. This means that in many coun­tries, such as those in Europe, we expect demand to grow strongly as elec­tric­ity is increas­ingly per­ceived as an alter­na­tive to gas, with heat­ing, for instance, began shift­ing from gas to heater pumps.”

Europe was one of the first regions to begin its energy tran­si­tion, and Cremona said the con­ti­nent could serve as a role model for other regions to make the tran­si­tion with­out harm­ing their economies.

There is a push for Europe to be at the fore­front as a good model on how the energy tran­si­tion can hap­pen in a sus­tain­able, just way,” Cremona said. That hap­pens through the drive of the poli­cies, which allow the rest of the world to see an econ­omy flour­ish­ing within a decar­bonized sys­tem. This is where the European nar­ra­tive sets in, show­ing that you can have a good econ­omy even decreas­ing your emis­sions.”

What we see in Europe as a reac­tion to ris­ing gas prices and the Russian war in Ukraine is that many coun­tries are com­ing out strong in their green energy tran­si­tion pro­grams. There is this drive to speed things up,” Cremona added. Germany, for instance, has just released an energy plan which aims at hav­ing 100 per­cent renew­ables within 2030.”

One of the keys to tack­ling global emis­sions is to strengthen coop­er­a­tion with devel­op­ing coun­tries that might not have the resources to boost clean energy pro­duc­tion.

We are see­ing this hap­pen­ing more,” Cremona said. This was also rein­forced at COP26. Some coun­tries are mov­ing more quickly on that. China, for instance, is the most active in sign­ing these agree­ments. Within Europe, we are also see­ing a grow­ing coop­er­a­tion fos­ter­ing tran­si­tion and decar­boniza­tion.”

According to Ember, the tran­si­tion to green energy is tak­ing its first steps in an overly com­plex world where energy mar­kets depend on resource avail­abil­ity, con­flicts, tech­nol­ogy, poli­cies and financ­ing.

The tran­si­tion is also occur­ring in the back­drop of the crescen­do­ing effects of cli­mate change – from severe drought and wild­fires to shifts in ocean cur­rents, all of which are hav­ing a pro­found impact on food pro­duc­tion and pop­u­la­tions.

The report opti­misti­cally con­cluded that there is still time to cur­tail sur­face tem­per­a­ture growth, but the urgency grows expo­nen­tially.

We do have reports, such as last week’s IPCC report, which tells us that we can still make it if action hap­pens imme­di­ately,” Cremona said. This is pos­i­tive because it tells us that there still is a win­dow of oppor­tu­nity.”

But there is also a slightly neg­a­tive ele­ment if we see the lat­est IPCC data, as the reduc­tion of emis­sions pro­jected three years ago did not progress,” she con­cluded. That means that in just three years the sit­u­a­tion has wors­ened, and we should now reduce emis­sions even more quickly than pre­vi­ously esti­mated.”


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