Wind and solar energy represented a record 12% of global electricity generation last year, up from 10% in 2021, a report on Wednesday found.
The report by climate and energy independent think tank Ember said last year could have marked peak emissions from the power sector, which is the largest source of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) worldwide.
Ember studied power sector data from 78 countries in its annual global electricity review, representing 93% of global power demand.
It concluded that all renewable energy sources and nuclear power combined represented a 39% share of global generation last year, with solar’s share rising by 24% and wind by 17% from the previous year.
The growth in wind and solar in 2022 met 80% of the rise in global electricity demand.
In spite of a global gas crisis and some countries firing back up old coal-fired power stations to meet demand, coal generation grew by 1.1%, while gas-fired power generation declined by 0.2% as high prices made it more expensive to use the fuel.
While CO2 emissions from the power sector rose by 1.3% last year, the growth of wind and solar slowed that rise. If all electricity from wind and solar generation came instead from fossil fuels, power sector emissions would have been 20% higher in 2022, the report said.
Assuming average growth in electricity demand and in clean power, Ember forecasts fossil fuel generation will decline 0.3% this year, followed by bigger falls in subsequent years as more wind and solar comes online.
As the power sector is the leading source of CO2 emissions, the International Energy Agency says it needs to become the first sector to reach net zero emissions by 2040 and this would mean wind and solar would have to reach 41% of global electricity generation by 2030.