Solar and wind power growth on track to meet Paris climate goal

Solar and wind power can grow enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius if the 10-year average compound growth rate of 20% can be maintained to 2030, according to independent climate think tank Ember.

New data compiled in a report released by Ember today showed that solar generation increased by 23% globally in 2021, while wind supply gained 14%. Together, both renewable sources accounted for 10.3% of total global electricity generation, up 1% from 2020.

“If these trends can be replicated globally, and sustained, the power sector would be on track for 1.5 degree goal,” Ember said in the report. The 1.5 degrees limit to global warming was agreed on by 195 nations at the Paris Climate Accords in 2015.

Ember found that the Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam had the fastest growth rates for the renewable sources, switching around 10% of their electricity demand from fossil fuels to wind and solar in the last two years.

However, the think tank highlighted on-the-ground constraints such as permitting as impediments to growth in the solar and wind sectors. If governments want to supercharge growth, they need to solve problems slowing deployment, Ember’s global lead Dave Jones said.

Coal-fired generation also saw its fastest growth since at least 1985 – up 9% in 2021. This came in a year of rapid demand recovery, as 2021 saw the largest recorded annual increase of in global electricity demand. Coal accounted for 59% of the total demand rise.