Wind, Solar Produce a Record 12% of Global Power Generation in 2022

Solar and wind energy comprised 12% of the electricity generated globally in 2022, leading to a record low carbon intensity of 436 gCO2/kWh, according to independent think tank Ember.

The growth in wind and solar generation (~557 TWh) alone met 80% of global electricity demand growth in 2022 (~694 TWh).

All clean energy sources, including renewables and nuclear, comprised 39% of global electricity.

Solar and wind generation grew by 24% and 17%, respectively. Over 60 countries generated more than 10% of their electricity from wind and solar.

However, other clean electricity sources dropped for the first time since 2011 due to a fall in nuclear output and fewer new nuclear and hydropower projects coming online.

Emissions drop

Wind and solar power are helping to slow the rise in power sector emissions, with the growth in these sources meeting 80% of global electricity demand growth in 2022. If all electricity from wind and solar came from fossil fuels, emissions would have been 20% higher.

Clean power growth is predicted to surpass electricity demand growth in 2023, with a small fall in fossil generation (-47 TWh or -0.3%). As wind and solar power expand, subsequent years are expected to see larger declines in fossil generation.

Power sector emissions hit a new high due to increased electricity demand in 2022, with coal generation up by 1.1%. Gas power generation fell marginally (-0.2%) in 2022–for the second time in three years– in the wake of high gas prices globally. Gas-to-coal switching was limited in 2022 because gas was already mostly more expensive than coal in 2021.

Only 31 GW of new gas power plants were built, the lowest in 18 years, while coal plant closures decreased as countries sought to maintain backup capacity during the energy transition.

However, 2022 saw the lowest number of coal plant closures in seven years as countries look to maintain backup capacity, even as the transition speeds up.

Last October, the International Energy Agency (IEA) had forecast that global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion would grow by just under 1% this year as the strong expansion of renewables and electric vehicles will prevent a sharper rise.

IEA also estimated that renewable energy would account for 90% of the global power capacity increase in 2022. The report predicted that around 280 GW of new renewable energy capacity will be operational in 2022.

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