Sun, wind power make record 12 per cent of world electricity

Wind power stations of German utility RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity companies are pictured in front of RWE's brown coal fired power plants of Neurath, Germany, 18 March, 2022.Reuters

Solar and wind energy surged to make a record 12 per cent of the world's electricity in 2022, a climate think tank calculated in a report Wednesday -- though coal remained the leading source globally.

The report provides the latest gauge of renewable energy growth as countries scramble to meet emissions targets to curb climate change and secure alternative power sources after gas-exporter Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

"Record growth in wind and solar drove the emissions intensity of the world's electricity to its lowest ever level in 2022," said climate and energy think tank Ember in its yearly Global Electricity Review.

Helping slow the rise in planet-heating emissions, power from wind turbines and solar panels was up to 12 per cent from 10 per cent in 2021 and five percent in 2015.

Renewable sources, including nuclear power, accounted for 39 per cent of world electricity, the group estimated.

The rest came from fossil fuels that cause planet-warming carbon emissions: oil, gas, and coal, which was the biggest source at 36 per cent.

With electricity demand continuing to rise, coal generation grew 1.1 per cent -- slower than expected, Ember said.

Scientists and the International Energy Agency say use of these fossil fuels must be reduced sharply to reach the critical target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Countries at the COP26 UN climate summit in 2021 agreed to "phase down" coal, the most polluting of the fossil fuels, but progress has been limited and new coal plants are planned, notably in India and China.

"We forecast that 2023 will see a small fall in fossil generation... with bigger falls in subsequent years as wind and solar grow further," Ember said.

"That would mean 2022 hit 'peak' emissions. A new era of falling power sector emissions is close."