Solar and wind power growth on track to limit global warming

Solar and wind are steadily increasing to account for more total global electricity generation.
Photo: Nuno Marques via Unsplash
By: Nat Rubio-Licht

It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to climate change news: Solar and wind power are on track to limit global warming at the current growth rate, according to climate think tank Ember.

If solar and wind power grow at an average rate of 20% per year until 2030, as they are currently, the growth could limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to a report by Ember released Wednesday.

Last year, solar power generation rose 23% globally, and wind supply grew 14% in the same timeframe. Solar and wind are steadily increasing to account for more total global electricity generation, accounting for more than 10% of the total in 2021, up 1% from 2020.

More than 50 countries now generate 10% of their electricity from wind and solar. Ember said in the report that limiting climate change is now “eminently possible” due to wind and solar.

“If these trends can be replicated globally, and sustained, the power sector would be on track for 1.5 degree goal,” the report said.

Though wind power and solar growth shows promising signs of limiting global warming, the renewable energy sources are also up against some limiting factors. Because clean energy wasn’t deployed quickly enough, coal power saw a rise in 2021 as well: up 9% in 2021 at more than 10,000 terawatt hours in 2021, its highest growth rate since 1985. Coal power made up 36% of global electricity last year, according to the report. As energy demand boomed in countries such as China, India and Mongolia, coal production hit record highs, outweighing deployment of clean energy.

“We’re getting closer to that break-even where wind and solar can cover new electricity demand, but we are still not quite there. If we maintain those growth rates we see, we will be there shortly,” Ember global lead Dave Jones told Reuters.

Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

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