The disappointing year 2021 for renewable energy in the world, distant by fossils

published on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at 12:55 p.m.

A “lost historic opportunity”: the share of renewable energies in global energy consumption stagnated in 2021, overtaken by the rebound in fossil fuels after the Covid, underlines the annual report of the network of experts REN21 published on Tuesday.

This year of economic recovery has however seen a record level of construction in both solar and wind power. But renewables (ENR) have been overtaken by the rebound in oil, gas and coal, and an increase in general energy demand.

“The share of renewables in global energy consumption stagnated in 2021, despite record installations of renewable capacity,” the report concluded.

In ten years, the share of renewables has just fallen from 8.7% of the total in 2009 to 11.7% in 2019, dams and biofuels included.

In 2020, the Covid year of an exceptional drop in energy demand, it fell to 12.6%. The exact figure for 2021 is not yet available, but should not respond to the acceleration necessary for the energy transition.

“We do not see a global transition to clean energy taking place”, and this makes “very unlikely the holding during this decade of climate objectives, however essential”, asserts the report.

In 2021, new renewable electricity capacities reached 316 gigawatts added in 2021 (i.e. +17% compared to 2020), making it possible to supply 10% of the world’s current for the first time.

But this addition of renewable electricity was not enough on its own to meet a 5% increase in electricity demand, to which thermal power stations running on fossil fuels had to respond.

For heating, cold and heat, the share of renewable origin remains at 11.2%, and in transport at 3.7%, “a particularly worrying lack of progress because this sector absorbs a third of the energy “…

“Despite green stimulus promises made during the pandemic, this historic opportunity has been lost,” and responses to the energy crisis have removed the nail, experts find.

In fact, the main measure taken by the States in the face of soaring hydrocarbon prices has been offset by their support for the production and/or purchase of gas or fuel, underlines REN21.

“Since the rise in prices and the crisis with Russia, we are witnessing a frenzy in the search for fossil resources”, points out the executive director of REN21, Rana Adib, “it is an alarming step backwards”.


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