Wind, solar power at record high in 2020

14 August, 2020 12:00 AM printer

PARIS: Wind and solar produced a record 10 per cent of global electricity in the first half of 2020 as the world’s coal plant fleet ran at less than half its capacity, analysis published on Thursday showed.

Despite a near-record drop in power demand due to the pandemic, renewables accounted for 1,129 terawatt-hours in January-June, compared with 992 in the first six months of 2019, according to a report by the Ember energy think tank, report agencies.

Overall, the percentage of power drawn from wind and solar has more than doubled from 4.6 per cent in 2015 - the year of the landmark Paris deal on climate change.

On the other hand, generation from coal - the most polluting fossil fuel - fell 8.3 per cent in the first half of 2020, the analysis showed.

This was despite leading emitter China increasing its share of the global coal fleet slightly. “From 2015 it’s an incredible amount of growth (in solar and wind), but even at 10 per cent it’s not completely transformational,” Dave Jones, senior electricity analyst at Ember, told AFP.

“When we ask is it enough what we are really talking about is, how fast are emissions falling?

“Thirty per cent of fossil fuel emissions globally are just from coal power plants, so coal fired power generation needs to collapse quickly in order to limit climate change,” said Mr Jones.

The analysis showed that many major economies - including China, the United States, India, Japan, Brazil and Turkey - now generate at least 10 per cent of their electricity through wind and solar.

Britain and the European Union were singled out for particular praise, deriving 21 and 33 per cent of their power from renewables, respectively.

Under the Paris Agreement, nations committed to limit temperature rises to “well below” 2 deg Celsius above pre-industrial levels, mainly through sweeping emissions cuts.