Wind and solar energy are the only sources experiencing growth globally, acquiring more share of the energy infrastructure and helping power sector emissions remain steady in the first half of 2023, according to a new study.
Electricity data from 78 countries that represented 92 per cent of global electricity demand for the first half of 2023 was analysed in the study released by environmental think-tank Ember on Thursday.
It found that while overall emissions remained stable, with a slight 0.2 per cent increase, wind and solar power generation surged ahead.
Solar energy, in particular, exhibited remarkable growth, increasing by 16 per cent and producing an additional 104 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. At least 50 nations achieved new monthly records for solar energy generation in the first half of 2023.
China led the charge, contributing 43 per cent of the global growth in solar generation. The EU, US and India also played significant roles, each contributing approximately 12 per cent to the increase.
But adverse hydro conditions, likely intensified by the worsening climate crisis, offset a potential decrease in emissions. Droughts caused a historic 8.5 per cent decline in hydro generation, equivalent to 177 TWh. China accounted for 75 per cent of this reduction.
To compensate for the drop in hydro generation, fossil fuel-based electricity production slightly increased.
“While it is encouraging to see the remarkable growth of wind and solar energy, we can’t ignore the stark reality of adverse hydro conditions intensified by climate change,” said Malgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, the lead author of the report and senior electricity analyst at Ember.
“The world is teetering at the peak of power sector emissions, and we now need to unleash the momentum for a rapid decline in fossil fuels by securing a global agreement to triple renewables capacity this decade.”
Amid these hydro issues, low electricity demand growth also helped to suppress emissions growth, the report said.
Global electricity demand rose only 0.4 per cent in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year, which is much lower than the 10-year historic average of 2.6 per cent.
Falls in demand in some major economies led to significant declines in coal power, most notably in the EU, where a 23 per cent decrease was noted.
As a result, emissions fell about 17 per cent in the EU, 12 per cent in Japan and around 8 per cent in the US.
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