Increased use of renewable energy is critical for reducing carbon emissions and fulfilling our climate goals. In 2021, the world struck a renewable energy milestone: wind and solar power combined contributed for a record one-tenth of global electricity use, according to a new study by energy think group Ember.
According to a survey that examined electricity-generation data from 75 nations, which account for 93 percent of worldwide power demand, all sources of nonfossil fuel clean energy including wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear, and biofuels accounted for 38 percent of global electricity generated in 2021. This was higher than coal, which produced 36% of the world’s electricity.
Such a gain in wind and solar, in particular, represents a significant increase over the last decade. Wind and solar generated only 4.6 percent of global electricity in 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed. The percentage has more than doubled to 10.3 percent. Technological advancements have also helped to reduce the costs of wind and solar.
“Across the last decade, we’ve seen an average growth of 20% a year in total wind and solar generation, which is pretty impressive,” says Dave Jones, global electricity analyst for Ember, a U.K based think tank focused on finding ways to speed up the transition from coal to clean energy.