A new analysis has found that renewables are keeping pace with increasing global energy demand, an encouraging sign during the global energy crisis. But there is a problem with clean energy, as climate change continues to wreak havoc and cause droughts and heat waves.
a Report This week from UK-based clean energy research center Ember takes a look at how electricity is performing so far in 2022. The report analyzes energy data from 75 countries. Those 75 countries account for 90% of global electricity demand. The report then compares this data with the first six months of 2021 to gauge changes over time.
First, the good news: Even with a global energy crisis on our hands, the massive amount of renewable energy being installed around the world has helped avoid any new generation of fossil fuels in the first half of this year. According to Ember data, the demand for electricity increased by about 3%, which was completely met by renewable energy sources. The report found that wind and solar power accounted for more than 75% of this increase in demand, while hydropower accounted for the remainder. In some countries, wind and solar have already pulled a heavy load; In China, wind and solar energy have helped meet 92% of the country’s growing demand.
“We are approaching a tipping point, where clean electricity—led by wind and solar—will meet all future electricity demand growth, and thus peak fossil fuel power generation,” wrote Malgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, Ember’s Senior Electricity Analyst, in the report.
The analysis found that all that renewable energy has some tangible cost benefits. As renewables were able to meet energy demand, the world avoided a potential 4% increase in fossil fuel generation – which would not only emit 230 metric tons of CO2 but would also mean an additional $40 billion expenditure, that Thanks to skyrocketing fossil fuel costs during this year’s global energy crisis. Last year, global emissions from energy use It has reached an all-time highdriven by rising demand for coal – so renewables that keep pace with demand in the first half of this year are very promising.
But there may be problems on the horizon. In July and August, Ember’s analysis found that the dangerous effects of climate change that crippled countries around the world this summer also had a real impact on energy consumption. One of the most exciting transformations has occurred in China, where serious droughts have led to a decline in hydropower production, especially in Sichuan Heavy Industrial Province80% of the county’s electricity comes from hydropower. This created a new demand for coal-fired power in China and turned that country’s surplus of clean energy, aided by massive hydropower production, into a deficit.
In Europe, climate effects have created similar problems. Heat waves have affected France’s nuclear plants, as warmer-than-normal rivers force French energy suppliers to Low energy production In some power stations to ensure that they do not overheat. European countries had to turn up electricity during deadly scorching heatwaves, turning again to coal-fired power to cool everyone—especially with European hydropower also in decline, thanks to a historic drought on the continent. Altogether, the rise in demand for fossil fuels during the summer has increased emissions from electricity generation over the past eight months rose 1.7%Despite the real gains made in the first six months of the year.
It remains to be seen how you will spend the rest of the yearAnd the but the Ember’s analysis of these first three quarters illustrates the complexity of the challenges the world faces in the upcoming energy transition. Renewable energy can provide carbon-free energy at a fraction of the cost of fossil fuels, which is a huge boon during fossil fuel energy crises, such as the one we are facing now from the Russian war in Ukraine. But its efficacy can also be affected by climate change itself, a stark reminder of just how much fossil fuels have pushed our world to the brink.
“We cannot be sure if we have reached peak coal and gas use in the energy sector,” Wiatros-Motyka said in the report. Global energy sector emissions still rise to all-time highs when they need to fall very quickly. And the same fossil fuels that drive us into a climate crisis are also causing a global energy crisis.”