Solar helps tip power sector past peak carbon
Welcome to the era of clean power.
As solar and other renewable energy generation surges, traditional fuel sources of electricity have plateaued. For the power sector, 2022 could have been the year of peak emissions.
That’s one of the headline messages from a new report by the carbon think-tank Ember.
In fact, solar generation rose by 24%, making it the fastest-growing electricity source for 18 years in a row. At the same time coal and gas-fired power plateaued and a small decrease is expected this year as well.
“In this decisive decade for the climate, it is the beginning of the end of the fossil age. We are entering the clean power era,” said Małgorzata Wiatros-Motyka, Senior Electricity Analyst, Ember.
Cutting the carbon embedded in our electricity has even greater importance for the climate fight. Power will replace fossil fuels in a number of other sectors like heating, transport and some industrial processes. To enable the net-zero targets of 2050, the power sector needs to get there by 2040. That means lots more demand for low carbon power – the EU estimates a doubling between now and 2050.
“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 growth is now within sight. Change is coming fast,” she added.
Ember compared what happened in 2022 to what the International Energy Agency’s pathway to limiting global heating to 1.5°C demands. Solar’s growth rate of 24% was just sort of the 25% required. But as the report notes, that gets harder to maintain as the sector matures.
To build something better than conventional power we’ve been working beyond conventional wisdom. We are outperforming the sector’s average annual growth and enabling businesses and utilities to drive their own decarbonisation in the process.
But for solar and other renewables to deliver their potential for this crucial decade, huge efforts are required to invest in power grids and speed-up permitting processes. We are sharing our expertise with policymakers, working with some of the world’s largest business to deliver clean electrons and preparing for the next generation of solar technology.
Faster growth is possible. We’re already living it.
Read Ember’s full report.
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