‘Entering the clean power era’: Global wind, solar reached record levels in 2022


‘Entering the clean power era’: Global wind, solar reached record levels in 2022


Wind and solar reached a record 12% of global electricity generation in 2022, up from 10% in 2021, according to the latest Global Electricity Review released Wednesday by energy think tank Ember.

The growing electricity generation from wind and solar is forecast to push the world into a new era of falling fossil generation and power sector emissions from 2023, marking the first year to see a decline in electricity generation from fossil fuels.

"In this decisive decade for the climate, it is the beginning of the end of the fossil age,” said Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, report author and Ember's electricity analyst. "We are entering the clean power era."

Ember analyzed electricity data from 78 countries in 2022, representing 93% of global electricity demand.

The findings show the share of wind in global electricity generation reached 7.6% in 2022, up from 6.6% in the previous year.

Solar's share was 4.5% in the world's power output last year, up from 3.7% in 2021.

Solar became the fastest-growing source of electricity for the 18th year in a row, growing by 24% year-on-year.

The growth in solar power's share across the world was driven by the rise in China, accounting for 37% of the global increase, while the growth in US solar generation accounted for 17% of the global rise.

Over 60 countries now generate more than 10% of their electricity from wind and solar, the data reveals.

China generated the most electricity from solar last year with 418 TWh, or 4.7% of its electricity from solar.

Chile had the largest share of solar in its electricity output with 17% last year, while the Netherlands followed with 13% solar share in their electricity mix.

All clean electricity sources combined generated 39% of global electricity, reaching a new record high. Hydro generated 15% of global electricity as the largest clean energy source and was followed by nuclear with 9% as the second largest source.

Despite the record generation from clean sources, fossil fuels still dominate, accounting for 61% of global electricity output. Coal power remained the single largest source of electricity worldwide, generating 36% of global electricity in 2022.

The report found the rise in wind and solar generation limited the increase in coal generation at 1.1%.

The share of gas in global electricity generation fell slightly by 0.2% last year, accounting for 22%.

As the share of coal and gas was still high in global electricity generation, power sector emissions increased by 1.3% last year, reaching an all-time high. Despite the record generation from clean sources last year, the rise in power sector emissions was driven by increased electricity demand.

However, the report forecast that 2022 will be the "peak" of electricity emissions and the final year of fossil power growth.

There would be a small drop in fossil fuel generation of 0.3% this year, with larger drops in subsequent years as wind and solar deployment accelerates.

"Clean electricity will reshape the global economy, from transport to industry and beyond. A new era of falling fossil emissions means the coal power phasedown will happen and the end of gas power is now within sight,” Wiatros-Motyka said.

"However, it all depends on the actions taken now by governments, businesses and citizens to put the world on a pathway to clean power by 2040.”

Related Topics
Foxwell Power helps multinational corporation decarbonise supply chain
Global renewables capacity additions increased by 10% last year: IRENA