Growth of solar, wind cuts emissions in global electricity sector


From pv magazine global

Emissions from the electricity sector remained stable in the first half of 2023, increasing by just 0.2% (equivalent to more than 12 million tons of CO2) from the same period the previous year, according to UK consultancy Ember.

The most significant reductions in emissions were observed in the European Union, followed by Japan, the United States, and South Korea. The reductions were primarily due to decreased coal generation, particularly in the United States, the European Union, Japan, and South Korea.

Ember said that achieving “peak” fossil emissions in the electricity sector is a critical milestone in the transition to a clean, electrified economy. The report noted that accelerating the deployment of wind and solar energy will be essential to achieving a rapid decline in emissions this decade.

Ember said the primary measure governments can take to put the world on a 1.5 C path is to triple global renewable capacity by 2030. In the first half of 2023, wind and solar were the only two sources of electricity that significantly increased their share of the global electricity supply, rising to 14.3% from 12.8% the previous year. However, their generation growth was slower compared to the same period in 2022, with solar increasing by 16% (compared to 26% in the first half of 2022).

In the first half of 2023, 50 countries achieved new monthly records for solar generation, with China leading in solar generation growth, followed by the European Union, the United States, and India.

Wind energy grew by 10% in the first half of 2023, compared to 16% in the same period in 2022.

Despite these gains, fossil generation increased slightly to compensate for the hydroelectricity deficit (-8.5%, or -177 TWh). According to Ember, emissions from the electricity sector would have decreased by 2.9% if global hydro generation had remained at the same level as the previous year.

However, lower electricity demand helped limit further global emissions growth, with global electricity demand increasing by only 0.4% in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year. This is significantly lower than the average annual growth rate of 2.6% between 2012 and 2022. High-income economies, including Japan, the European Union, the United States, and South Korea experienced a decline in demand, leading to lower fossil fuel consumption. In contrast, India saw demand growth of 3.1%.


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