Day view solar panel system installed on UK field

UK ranks sixth globally for share of power generated by wind and solar

Image credit: Jevanto/Dreamstime

The UK has ranked sixth in the world for the share of its electricity it produces from clean wind and solar power, an analysis has found.

Independent climate and energy think tank Ember conducted the assessment, which revealed the top 15 wind and solar power countries. It found that Denmark is leading the way, generating 61 per cent of its electricity from the two renewable sources, followed by Uruguay on 44 per cent.

The UK comes in sixth in the ranking, behind Ireland, Germany and Spain, generating 29 per cent of its power from wind and solar in 2020, the analysis found.

“Wind and solar will be the backbone of the electricity system of the future. Countries like the UK already prove that wind and solar are up to the job,” said Charles Moore, Ember’s Europe lead.

The rankings come after Ember’s recent global electricity review, which revealed that wind and solar produced almost a tenth of the world’s electricity in 2020, doubling since 2015 when they generated 5 per cent of global power.

Regarding the total amount of electricity generated by wind and solar, China, the EU-27 and the US lead the way, the analysis stated, accounting for two-thirds of global generation from renewables. Meanwhile, countries such as Vietnam, Chile and South Korea have seen rapid growth in wind and solar generation.

A recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency has found almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built around the world last year will generate electricity more cheaply than the world’s cheapest new fossil fuel plants.

But the International Energy Agency has warned that 100 per cent clean power is needed by 2040 worldwide to curb climate emissions to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, seen as a threshold beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt.

In its analysis, Ember warned that building enough wind and solar just to keep up with growing power demand will be a key challenge for many countries, as sectors such as heating and transport switch to using electricity.

Moore believes that advanced economies still have work to do to achieve 100 per cent clean electricity by 2035 and play their part in avoiding dangerous climate change.

In the next decade, clean electricity deployment must speed up to replace fossil fuels and meet the rising demand for electricity as the world’s economy electrifies and to provide electricity access for all, the think tank urged.

Moore said: “In the last decade, the UK has led the way in a rapid coal phase-out,” adding that as hosts of global COP26 climate talks in Glasgow this year, the UK could steer the world away from fossil fuels and towards clean electricity.

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