Renewable energy generation (wind and solar) reached 12% of the total in 2022, setting a new record, but falling behind coal-fired electricity generation and more broadly fossil fuels, which remain the main source of electricity across the world, according to a report by energy think tank Ember.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the progressive shutdown of Moscow’s pipelines and the subsequent spike in prices forced governments to rethink their energy policies and accelerate the exploitation of clean sources.

If added, “clean” forms of energy (ie Ember’s definition includes nuclear power) reached 39% of global production, a “new record”. The remaining 61% of electricity production was made by burning fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal).

Ember’s fourth annual Global Electricity Review is based on open sources of the generation sector in 78 countries, representing 93% of global demand.

In 2022, the production of electricity thanks to wind turbines and photovoltaic panels reached 12%, a “record”. It was only at 5% in 2015 and at 10% in 2021.

It covered 80% of the increase in electricity demand.

Thanks to renewable sources, more than 10% of electricity production is now ensured in more than 60 countries. The European Union leads the way in this, 22% of the energy it produces comes from renewable sources, while it recorded a 24% increase in production thanks to photovoltaic panels compared to the previous year.

The utilization of renewable sources allowed the burning of coal for the production of electricity to be reduced, which nevertheless saw a marginal increase (+1.1%), as demand continued to grow.

Despite the “advances” that have been made, “coal remains the main source of electricity in the world”: thanks to its combustion, “36% of the world’s electricity was produced in 2022”, the text emphasizes.

The continued reliance on gas and coal to meet demand has resulted in emissions (including greenhouse gases) rising to a new record’, equivalent to 12 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2022 (+1 .3%). If all the electricity produced worldwide was ensured by the burning of fossil fuels, the increase would be close to 20% in 2022, the text emphasizes.

Ember’s experts estimate that 2022 may have marked the “peak” of emissions from the electricity generation sector, and this could be “the last year of growth in energy generated from fossil fuels”.

In 2023, they expect a “slight decline in fossil fuel generation (–0.3%)”, and “much larger declines in the years ahead as wind and solar growth accelerate”.

“In this decade of decisive importance for the climate, the beginning of the end of the era of fossil fuels is marked”, said the analyst and main author of the report, Malgozata Viatros-Motika, in the foreword of the text.