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Wind and solar generate almost a tenth of global electricity

Wind and solar have increased to become a major source of electricity in most countries in the world and are successfully reducing coal burn throughout the world.

A new analysis from independent climate think-tank Ember aggregates national electricity generation for 48 countries making up 83 per cent of global electricity production.

Wind and solar generation rose 14 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the same period of 2019, generating almost a tenth (9.8 per cent) of global electricity. In other words, their share more than doubled from 4.6 per cent in 2015, when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. Wind and solar generated almost as much CO2-free power as nuclear power plants, which contributed to 10.5 per cent of global electricity.

Many key countries now generate around a tenth of their electricity from wind and solar including Turkey (13 per cent), which leads Central and Eastern Europe. Lower electricity demand (-4 per cent) almost completely offset the fall in the hydro generation (-12 per cent), leaving coal and gas generation mostly unchanged. This has reduced Turkey’s need for new coal power plants.

On the other hand, Russia is the largest country so far to shun wind and solar, with just 0.2 per cent of its electricity from these renewable sources.

At the same time, global coal generation fell by 8.3 per cent, breaking a new record. Although 70 per cent of coal’s fall can be attributed to lower electricity demand due to COVID-19, 30 per cent can be attributed to increased wind and solar generation.

“Countries across the world are now on the same path – building wind turbines and solar panels to replace electricity from coal and gas-fired power plants,” wrote Dave Jones,
Senior electricity analyst at Ember. “But to keep a chance of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees, coal generation needs to fall by 13 per cent every year this decade. The fact that, during a global pandemic, coal generation has still only fallen by 8 per cent shows just how far off-track we still are. We have the solution, it’s working, it’s just not happening fast enough.” 

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