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Report: Clean energy sources generated 38% of electricity used globally in 2021

Report: Clean energy sources generated 38% of electricity used globally in 2021
March 31
07:41 2022

A report by Ember, a climate and energy think tank, shows the world used 38 percent of clean energy in 2021.

The report tagged ‘Global Electricity Review 2022’ was released on Wednesday. 

According to the report, wind and solar accounted for 10 percent of the total figure.

The report added that the development is because up to 50 countries now get more than 10 percent of their power from wind and solar sources.


“Solar generation rose 23% last year, and wind by 14%. Combined, this takes them to more than 10% of global electricity generation. All clean electricity sources generated 38% of the world’s electricity in 2021, more than coal (36%),” the report reads.

“To be on a pathway that keeps global heating to 1.5 degrees, wind and solar need to sustain high compound growth rates of 20% every year to 2030. That’s the same rate of growth as their average over the last decade. 

“This is now eminently possible: wind and solar are the lowest cost source of electricity on a levelised basis, with ever-increasing global experience of integrating them into grids at high levels. 


“With 50 individual countries now generating more than 10% of their electricity from these quick-to-deploy resources, and three countries already generating over 40%, it is already clear that these technologies are delivering.”

In an interview with BBC, Hannah Broadbent, communications head at Ember, said the countries with the fastest growth are Netherlands, Australia, and Vietnam. 

She said Vietnam’s growth was “massive”, particularly in solar, because its government incentivised solar deployment by households.  

“The Netherlands is a great example of a more northern latitude country proving that it’s not just where the sun shines, it’s also about having the right policy environment that makes the big difference in whether solar takes off,” Broadbent said.


“In the case of Vietnam, there was a massive step-up in solar generation and it was driven by feed-in tariffs — money the government pays you for generating electricity — which made it very attractive for households and for utilities to be deploying large amounts of solar.

“What we saw with that was a massive step-up in solar generation last year, which didn’t just meet increased electricity demand, but it also led to a fall in both coal and gas generation.”

The report added that despite growth in clean energy, coal power use also increased in 2021.

It stated that this was as a result of the increase in gas prices globally which forced countries to use coal as an alternative to electricity generation. 


“The last year has seen some really super high gas prices, where coal became cheaper than gas,” Dave Jones, global lead at Ember, said.

“What we’re seeing right now is gas prices across Europe and across much of Asia being 10 times more expensive than they were this time last year, where coal was three times more expensive.”


But Jones is optimistic about the ability of clean energy to change the energy system.

“Wind and solar have arrived. The process that will reshape the existing energy system has begun. This decade, they need to be deployed at lightning speed to reverse global emissions increases and tackle climate change,” he added.


This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.


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