Solar and wind power generation doubled their share over the last five years in terms of global energy supply. This is an astonishing growth rate of 14.87% per annum on average. But what has contributed to that rapid increase? Coronavirus, it turns out, has played a role.
How did coronavirus positively affect the share and upscaling of renewable sources? Due to coronavirus lockdown measures, energy demand has decreased globally, and the share of renewables has gone up at the cost of coal and gas shares. This is mainly because renewables are usually dispatched earlier than fossil options. Hence, they have been more resilient to lower energy demand than other traditional options have been.
By comparing Q1 figures for 2020 and 2019, we can see that the global use of renewable energy sources has increased by 1.5%. Part of this share was caused by about 100 GW of new solar assets and about 60 GW of wind farms that were completed in 2019 and that produced at full throttle in 2020.
Don’t get us wrong, coal and gas still account for over 60% of the world’s electricity supply. Nevertheless, we have seen impressive numbers in Germany and the UK, which have generated 42% and 33%, respectively, of their electricity demand from wind and solar alone over the first 6 months of 2020.
Let’s have a closer look at the UK. On Tuesday August 18th, Britain used coal to produce energy for the first time in 67 days 22 hours and 55 minutes . This has been a historic stretch of time, in every sense, as it has been the longest period in the island’s history to have gone coal free. In the same week, the country’s last coal mine shut down. For the first three months of 2020, wind alone accounted for just 0.1% less than gas as a percentage of the UK’s electricity production, 30.5% and 30.6%, respectively.
A total of more than 13 gigawatts of solar PV panels are currently installed all over the UK, meaning that an estimated 13 million homes get at least some of their electricity from the sun. With recent developments regarding the upscaling of renewables, expanding taxation plans on carbon emissions and levelized costs for new renewable power installations that undercut traditional fossil options, we will soon see numbers higher than in Germany, at least one can hope so.
Let us not forget about major economies like the US, China, Japan, India or Brazil, as they still lag behind in terms of their renewable energy share in the first half of 2020, despite lockdown measures and resulting decreases in energy demand. Just 12% of U.S. electricity generation and 10% in the other countries came from renewables.
These major economies and energy consumers need to up their share in renewables funding, installation and production. Nevertheless, we can look back at the first half of 2020 with positive feelings as the share of renewables has been increasing and will hopefully continue to do so in the second half as well.
What great news can you share about your country in regard to the latest developments and achievements of the first half of 2020? We are keen to know!