Renewable energy had a banner year in 2022
Despite experts saying the world’s renewable energy capacity is not growing fast enough to support government promises of a green transition by 2050, several clean energy production records have been broken by 2022. A large number of wind and solar power went online around the world last year. , and several advances were made in a variety of different sources of renewable energy. Energy companies from North America, Europe and Asia have laid out plans to develop major green hydrogen facilities, hydroelectric plants and new tidal and wave operations; as well as promoting connectivity between different regions to meet the objectives of sharing energy. While there is still a long way to go if governments are to deliver on their promises to reduce global emissions, increased investment in renewable energy over the past year by public and private actors is likely to help accelerate the green transition in next decades.
Wind power remains one of the fastest growing renewable energy sectors. In the UK, the National Grid ESO stated that a record level of wind power was produced in the last week of 2022, with 20,918 GW of electricity produced in the half hour period between 6:00pm and 6:30pm on December 30, 2022. This means that wind power contributed 61.4 per cent of the UK’s power supply on that day. The previous record was set with production of 20,896 GW on November 2, 2022.
CEO of trade body RenewableUK, Dan McGrail, fixed of the achievement: “The fact that UK onshore and offshore wind farms continue to set new records for electricity generation shows just how important this technology has become in our modern energy system.” He added: “Wind power is now the UK’s cheapest new source of energy, so every unit of electricity we generate from it helps consumers by cutting down on ultra-expensive gas imports.”
The UK has some of the best conditions in Europe for wind power generation, with 74 terawatt hours (TWh) of wind power generation reached by the end of December 2022, producing enough power to Energize 19 million homes. In August last year, the UK reached 25.5 GW of wind power capacity, an increase of 10.5 GW from 2017. This comes from both onshore and offshore wind farms. And SSE Plc and TotalEnergies SE’s new 1.1 gigawatt Seagreen project is expected to come online next summer. Overall, the UK wind pipeline, both in operation and under development, totals 129 GWof which 93.3 GW are offshore.
In Germany, a new renewable energy production record was set last year, with the country producing 256 TWh of electricity from renewable sources in 2022. Better weather conditions allowed solar energy production to increase. increase by 23 percent compared to 2021. Renewables contributed to 46 percent of Germany’s energy consumption in 2022, an increase from 41 percent the year before. However, experts suggest that Germany must bring many more renewable energy projects online to meet its climate targets. To achieve its goal of 600 TWh of renewable energy capacity by 2030, which is equivalent to 80 percent of its energy consumption, green energy production in 2022 should have totaled around 270 TWh.
By 2022, China was on track to break renewable energy and fossil fuel production records, with significant government investment in developing its green energy sector. Solar power for electricity generation increased 30 percent between January and October, compared to the same period in 2021. And wind power’s contribution to electricity increased 25 percent. And China is still the largest producer of renewable energy in the world.
Overall, global electricity demand increased by 3% in the first half of 2022, compared to the previous year. Renewable energy operations were able to meet all of this increased demand, with wind and solar power providing 77 percent and hydrogen the rest. In China, increased wind and solar generation provided 92 percent of the increase in its electricity demand; in the US it was 81 percent, and in India it was 23 percent.
As well as putting many countries on track to meet renewable energy and climate commitments in the coming decades, the increase in global green power capacity has had a more immediate effect in Europe. As Europe grappled with gas shortages and soaring energy prices, several countries turned to renewables to meet demand. Between May and August last year, the EU generated 12% of its electricity from solar energy sources, an increase of 9% since 2021. This is equivalent to 29,000 million euros in gas imports saved thanks to solar energy projects. Meanwhile, wind power contributed around 12 percent of the power generated in Europe, while hydropower provided 11 percent.
While there is still a long way to go to achieve the ambitious Paris Agreement and the climate pledges of COP27 through the development of global renewable energy capacity, several notable achievements were achieved in 2022. Both Europe and Asia saw great strides in its green energy development, with almost 33 percent of the world’s electricity expected to come from renewables by 2024 compared to 29 percent in 2020.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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