Solar and wind energy are on the rise, but is coal’s use falling rapidly enough?

Solar and wind energy are on the rise, but is coal’s use falling rapidly enough?

August 17, 2020 0 By Erin Kilgore

These sources of renewable power are twice what they were half a decade ago.

Solar and wind energy have watched their share of global electricity grow to twice what it had been in 2015, according to a recent Ember climate think tank report.

This has made the two renewable forms of electricity production about one tenth of all global power.

At their current size, solar and wind energy are approaching the amount of electricity generation from nuclear power plants. Even better, the use of these forms of renewable energy are gradually replacing the use of coal. The use of that fossil fuel fell by a record 8.3 percent in the first half of 2020 when compared to what it had been during the first half of 2019.

About 30 percent of that reduction can be explained by the growing use of solar panel and wind turbine farms, said the Ember report. The remainder of the decline in the use of coal for power generation was explained by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis shutdowns reducing the power demand around the world.

The UK and EU are leading the world in replacing coal with solar and wind energy.

“Countries across the world are now on the same path – building wind turbines and solar panels to replace electricity from coal and gas-fired power plants,” said senior electricity analyst Dave Jones from Ember. The Ember report is based on an analysis of data from 48 countries which comprise 83 percent of the electricity production on the planet.

According to that report, when it comes to the percentage of power generated by wind turbine and solar panel farms, the United Kingdom and European Union are currently leading the world. Those forms of renewable energy comprise 42 percent of Germany’s power mix and 33 percent of that of the United Kingdom. For all of the European Union, they make up 21 percent of the electricity generation mix.

Conversely, the three largest carbon polluters in the world, China, the United States, and India, use a far lower proportion of renewable energy. Solar and wind energy comprise about 10 percent of the power mix in both China and India. China is now home to over half of the world’s coal power generation. Therefore, while renewable energy sources are making some Solar and wind energy - wind turbines and solar panelsmeaningful headway, there remains a long way to go with the top polluters being as large as they are and still clinging to coal as a fuel source.

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