Much more needs to be done to ensure global coal generation keeps falling as electricity demand recovers, according to a new report.
Research by energy think-tank Ember showed that output from new renewable energy projects helped to force a record fall in global coal power of 346 TWh in 2020.
However, the report cautions that this was only possible because the pandemic paused the world’s rising demand for electricity. Since 2015, rising electricity demand has outpaced growth in clean electricity and led to an increase in fossil fuels and emissions.
Dave Jones, Ember’s Global Lead, said: “With coal use already rising in 2021 across China, India and the US, it’s clear the big step-up is yet to happen.”
“As electricity demand resumes and increases, the world will need to do a lot more to ensure coal keeps falling.”
Wind and solar showed resilient growth despite the pandemic, up by 15% (+314 TWh) in 2020, which is more than the UK’s entire annual electricity production. Wind and solar now supply almost a tenth of global electricity, mirrored across many G20 countries, including India (9%), China (9.5%), Japan (10%), Brazil (11%), the US (12%) and Turkey (12%).
Europe is leading the way, with Germany at 33% and the United Kingdom at 29%, which Ember says gives confidence in how wind and solar can be quickly built and integrated into the electricity system.