Electricity generated by new wind and solar in 2020 helped to force a record fall in global coal power, according to analysis from think tank Ember.
Ember’s new report found 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.
Ember’s Global Electricity Review analyses electricity data from every country in the world to give a view of the global electricity transition in 2020.
The pandemic paused the world’s rising demand for electricity. The slight drop in demand (-0.1%) was the first fall since 2009, although it was smaller than the impact of the financial crisis.
Wind and solar showed resilient growth despite the pandemic, up by 15%, or 314 terawatt hours 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%).
The growth in wind and solar helped push coal power to a record fall of 4% (-346 TWh).
Models from the International Energy Agency show that coal power must fall by 14% every year to keep the world on track for 2050 net zero emissions.