Disappointing year 2021 for renewable energies, and its predecessor

The report concludes, “The share of renewables in global energy consumption is stagnant in 2021, despite record renewable capacity installations.” Within ten years, its share of the total has increased from 8.7% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2019, including dams and biofuels. In 2020, the year of Covid which saw an exceptional drop in energy demand, it fell to 12.6%. The exact number for 2021 is not yet available, but it should not correspond to the acceleration needed for the power transmission.

Difficult goals to achieve

“We do not see a global shift towards clean energy,” the report emphasizes, and this makes “the achievement of climate targets during this decade highly unlikely, which are nonetheless deemed essential.” Last year, carbon dioxide emissions increased by 6%. However, according to United Nations climate experts (IPCC), the world has three years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hope for a “livable” future, by eliminating fossil fuels.

In 2021, new renewable electricity capacities reached 316 gigawatts added in 2021 (ie +17% compared to 2020), making it possible to provide 10% of the world’s electricity for the first time. But this record addition was not enough on its own to meet the 5% increase in electricity demand, which fossil fuel power plants had to respond to. For heating, cold and heat, the share of renewables remains at 11.2%, and in transport 3.7%, “a particularly worrisome lack of progress because this sector absorbs a third of the energy.”

‘missed opportunity’

“Despite promises of green stimulus made during the pandemic, this historic opportunity has been missed,” experts say, and responses to the energy crisis have pushed the point home. Indeed, the main measure taken by countries in the face of rising hydrocarbon prices was to strengthen their support for the production and/or purchase of gas or fuel, as REN21 asserts.

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