Wind and solar power displace coal, but not as quickly as we would like

Wind and solar power displace coal, but not as quickly as we would like


According to the think tank Ember, the share of solar and wind energy in the global energy sector has doubled since 2015. At present, it accounts for about 10% of the total volume of generated energy, approaching the level of nuclear power plants.

Alternative energy sources are gradually replacing coal, the production of which declined in the first half of 2020 by a record 8.3% compared to the same period in 2019. Wind and solar power accounted for 30% of the decline, according to Ember, while most of the decline was due to the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in lower electricity demand.

Ember’s survey covers 48 countries accounting for 83% of global electricity production. In terms of the amount of electricity generated by wind and sun, the UK and the EU are now leading. These alternative energy sources currently account for 42% of energy consumption in Germany, 33% in the UK and 21% in the EU.

This is much higher compared to the top three carbon pollutants in the world: China, the United States and India. In China and India, wind and solar power generates about a tenth of all electricity. Moreover, China accounts for more than half of all coal energy in the world.

In the US, about 12% of all electricity comes from solar and wind farms. Renewables will be the fastest growing source of electricity generation this year, according to a forecast released earlier this week by the US Energy Information Administration. In April 2019, total US energy generated from renewable sources surpassed coal for the first time, making the last year a record for renewables. According to Reuters, in 2020, the share of renewables and nuclear power in the US electricity mix will surpass coal.

All of this is encouraging, but there is still a long way to go before reaching the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement target of preventing the planet from warming more than 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to reduce coal consumption by 13% annually over the next 10 years, and carbon dioxide emissions should practically disappear by 2050.

The fact that coal production fell by only 8% during the global pandemic shows how far we are still on track.– said Dave Jones, senior analyst at Ember. – We have a solution, it works, but it’s not fast enough“.

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