Wind and solar generated 10% of global electricity for the first time in 2021, a new analysis shows.
Fifty countries get more than a tenth of their power from wind and solar sources, according to research from Ember, a climate and energy think tank.
As the world’s economies rebounded from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, demand for energy soared.
Demand for electricity grew at a record pace. This saw a surge in coal power, rising at the fastest rate since 1985.
The research shows the growth in the need for electricity last year was the equivalent of adding a new India to the world’s grid.
Solar and wind and other clean sources generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021. For the first time wind turbines and solar panels generated 10% of the total.
The share coming from wind and sun has doubled since 2015, when the Paris climate agreement was signed.
The fastest switching to wind and solar took place in the Netherlands, Australia, and Vietnam. All three have moved a tenth of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to green sources in the last two years.
“The Netherlands is a great example of a more northern latitude country proving that it’s not just where the Sun shines, it’s also about having the right policy environment that makes the big difference in whether solar takes off,” said Hannah Broadbent from Ember.
Vietnam also saw spectacular growth, particularly in solar which rose by over 300% in just one year.
“In the case of Vietnam, there was a massive step up in solar generation and it was driven by feed-in tariffs – money the government pays you for generating electricity – which made it very attractive for households and for utilities to be deploying large amounts of solar,” said Dave Jones, Ember’s global lead.
“What we saw with that was a massive step up in solar generation last year, which didn’t just meet increased electricity demand, but it also led to a fall in both coal and gas generation.”
Despite the growth and the fact that some countries like Denmark now get more than 50% of their electricity from wind and solar, coal power also saw a remarkable rise in 2021.