Renewable energy reached a new record in 2021, with 38 percent of the world’s demand for power now met with clean energy such as wind and solar.
According to Ember’s Global Electricity Review, solar power generation grew 23 percent over the previous year, and wind power rose 14 percent.
Fifty countries generated more than 10 percent of power from wind and solar sources in 2021.
Ember is an independent, not-for-profit think tank. Its annual electricity report is in its third year.
According to the report, wind and solar contributed 10 percent of global energy demand, which is now nearly twice the amount generated when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.
Renewable sources also have exceeded the 36 percent of global energy demand that was met by coal.
The leading countries making the switch to renewable sources include Australia, the Netherlands, and Vietnam.
Vietnam grew around 300 percent in one year, after the government paid residents for installing solar panels that contributed to the grid.
Additionally, despite the Netherlands receiving lower amounts of sunlight throughout the year, government policies also pushed for solar power.
Several countries have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050, while others hope to achieve this milestone much sooner.
Despite the gains in solar and wind power, coal-fired power had the fastest growth since 1985: It was up 9 percent in 2021.
This was due to an unprecedented demand for power that clean energy could not keep up with.
Global electricity demand was up 5.4 percent in 2021, which is the equivalent of adding a new India to the world’s electricity demand, according to the report.
According to Dave Jones, the global lead at Ember, despite the coal and power emissions hitting all-time highs, there are “clear signs” the global electricity transition is underway.
He said more wind and solar is being added to grids than ever before, and it’s happening across the world.
In the face of Russia’s war with Ukraine, more leaders are learning about the urgency of installing clean energy sources, experts say, but it needs to happen on a massive scale.
According to the report, wind and solar must maintain high growth rates to reach clean energy goals.
And while wind and solar are the fastest-growing sources, other clean sources, such as hydro, nuclear, and bioenergy, are needed as well.
Above all, the report said that wind and solar generation must continue on their growth curve, to provide three-quarters of the growth in clean electricity through 2030.
Experts believe this goal is realistic, but coal needs to fall rapidly instead of continuing to rise.