Solar power on pace to save the world
According to Ember, an independent think tank, if wind and solar keep up a 20% compounding growth rate over the next 10 years, the global power sector has a chance of meeting the decarbonization goals that are needed to keep the world’s temperature increase at or below 1.5 C.
If solar electricity generation keeps up the year over year growth rates of the last ten years – 33% – for another 10 years, then solar will without a doubt be pulling its weight in mitigating CO2 emissions. The report suggests that solar “only” needs to grow at 24% over the next decade to meet its goals.
The analysis found that solar electricity generation rose by greater than 23% last year, and that wind grew by 14%. The two sources officially surpassed 10% of global electricity generation last year, and when combined with other clean electricity sources (nuclear and hydro being the other two largest), they hit 38%. Combined, this means they passed the world’s largest electricity generation source – coal – at 36%.
The IPCC report (above) explains that by 2030, solar and wind are each expected to mitigate roughly four gigatons per year of CO2 emissions, with an upper limit as high as six gigatons each, per year. The carbon savings from either one of these clean energy sources is expected to be on par with the emissions that would be saved by ceasing the destruction of forestland. The blue on the bar graph suggests that at least four gigatons of these global CO2 reductions (wind and solar combined) will cost less than we’re paying for energy today.