5 milestones in green energy

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • COVID-19 has not slowed the rise globally in sustainable energy sources.
  • 2020 saw unprecedented demand, adding 260GW of capacity.
  • Solar power is now the cheapest source of electricity in history, says the IEA.

Energy accounts for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas, so embracing cleaner sources is key to fighting climate change.

And while the energy transition still has a way to go, renewable energy is nonetheless on a roll, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The energy transition is an “unstoppable” trend, the agency said.

Here are some recent historic shifts in energy use that illustrate that trend.

1. 2020 was a record year for renewables

Globally, 260 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity were added in 2020, exceeding expansion in 2019 by close to 50% – and breaking all previous records, IRENA says.

More than 80% of all new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, with solar and wind accounting for 91% of new renewables, according to the agency’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2021. Total fossil fuel additions fell from 64GW to 60GW over the same period.

“These numbers tell a remarkable story of resilience and hope,” IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera said.

Renewable share of annual power capacity expansion.
Renewable energy use is soaring globally. Image: Renewable capacity highlights 2021, International Renewable Energy Agency

2. Britain had its greenest day on record

Easter Monday, 5 April, broke a renewable energy record for Great Britain.

The nation’s electricity grid reached the greenest it’s ever been, with zero-carbon power sources including wind, solar and nuclear making up 80% of the energy mix.

At the same time, the carbon intensity of electricity – the measure of CO2 emissions per unit of electricity consumed – dropped to 39gCO2, the lowest figure in history.

3. IEA crowns solar ‘the new king of electricity supply’

Solar power will be the new king of electricity supply and looks set for massive expansion, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Its World Energy Outlook 2020 report predicts renewables will set new records each year after 2022, thanks to “widely available resources, declining costs and policy support in over 130 countries.”

“For projects with low cost financing that tap high quality resources, solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history,” the IEA says.

This includes being more cost-effective than coal and gas in many countries today, including in the largest markets – the United States, European Union, China and India.

Global solar PV and coal-fired installed capacity by scenario, 2010-2030.
Use of solar power is predicted to surge. Image: World Energy Outlook 2020, IEA

4. Adelaide’s operations run on 100% renewable electricity

Swimming pools, car parks, depots and community buildings in the Southern Australia capital of Adelaide are now powered entirely by renewable energy.

The city is the first council in South Australia to use 100% renewable electricity across its operations, including the historic Adelaide Town Hall, which was built in 1866.

The switch will reduce emissions by more than 11,000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 3,500 cars off the road.

5. Viet Nam increases solar capacity by 25 times in just one year

Government-backed incentives to install rooftop solar systems helped Viet Nam soar to new solar energy highs in 2020.

By the end of December, 9.3GW of solar capacity had been added – equivalent to six coal power plants – and a 25-fold increase in installed capacity compared to a year earlier.

There are now more than 101,000 rooftop solar systems on homes, offices and factories across the country, according to Vietnam Electricity, the state utility.

Viet Nam has previously been heavily dependent on coal for electricity generation.

For more about the future of energy, read the Forum’s “Energy Transition Index 2020” here. This is a fact-based ranking to help policymakers and business leaders plot a course for a successful energy transition.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief welcomes South Sudan’s Unity government, lauds parties for ‘significant achievement’

With lifelong learning, you too can join the digital workplace

Legendary Harlem Globetrotters slam-dunk at the UN, with message that brings families, nations together

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

A Europe that delivers: EU citizens expect more EU level action in future

Ukraine: Temperatures plunge amid rising humanitarian needs

How to talk about climate change: 5 tips from the front lines

This Canadian start-up turns millions of chopsticks into sustainable furniture

OECD Secretary-General Gurría welcomes announcement of new trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada

How tech is helping the agriculture sector curb carbon emissions

2019 data on official development aid & online discussion of ODA’s role in the Covid-19 crisis

Spanish vote – bad luck for Greece: Does Iphigenia need to be sacrificed for favourable winds to blow in Eurozone?

How three US cities are using data to end homelessness

MEPs want to ensure sufficient funding for Connecting Europe’s future

Post-Brexit muddled times: the resignation of UK’s top ambassador and Theresa May’s vague plans

Re-open EU: Commission launches a website to safely resume travelling and tourism in the EU

How to make primary healthcare a favourable career choice for medical students: strategies and reflections

Eastern Partnership: Commission proposes new policy objectives for beyond 2020

What if big-tech companies became non-profits?

South Sudan: UN rights experts see little headway on peace deal amid spike in local-level violence

UN official sees ‘unprecedented opportunities’ to make progress on peace in Afghanistan

Commission supports reform projects in Member States for more jobs and sustainable growth

Polish de facto ban on abortion puts women’s lives at risk, says Parliament

Mobile health technology: Advances, Facilitations and Promotion of Autonomy

Road injuries leading cause of death for the young, despite safety gains: UN report

State aid: Commission approves up to €4 billion French measure to recapitalise Air France

Iran: UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by continuing executions of juvenile offenders

This afternoon Britain will be once more isolated from mainland Europe

MEPs want ambitious funding for cross-border projects to connect people

EU’s guidelines on net neutrality see the light although grey areas do remain

Why South Africa is on a path of economic renewal

Built by a woman: supporting the dreams of mum entrepreneurs

Texting is a daily source of stress for 1/3 of people – are you one of them?

Pandemic versus fear

A breath of fresh air: How three disused industrial areas became beautiful parks

Will the French let Macron destroy their party political system?

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

Norway has successfully enforced its foreign bribery laws but faces potential obstacles

EU is not only obsessed with Facebook but also blaims now innocent websites using social plugins to serve democratic dialogues?

Right-wing “sovranism” harm national identity

EU revengefully shows no mercy to Cameron by demanding a fast and sloppy Brexit now

What wealth managers can learn from family dynamics

How global food safety protects the planet and begins on the farm

OECD: Mind the financial gap that lies ahead

Why collaboration will be key to creating the workforce of the future

Green Deal: How MEPs wish to channel EU investment to sustainable activities

VW emissions scandal: While U.S. car owners are vindicated, Europe still unable to change its laws and protect its consumers

If on a summer’s night: is UK businesses’ “new deal” the only key to the “best of all worlds”?

The needs, challenges and power dynamics of refugee resettlement

A jingoistic Spanish ‘war’ from the past

Euro celebrates its 20th birthday

Students & Allies Unite Globally To Launch #Students_Against_COVID

This team of Saudi women designed an award-winning app to make the Hajj safer

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Forty-two countries adopt new OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence

No more lead in PVC to protect public health, say MEPs

‘Multiplicity’ of rights violations in Ukraine as fifth winter of conflict bites

5G: How a ‘legion of robots’ could help save the rhino

It’s Trump’s anti-globalization and inward-looking rhetoric that perturbs GOP and US

‘No shortcuts to a healthier world’: WHO chief sets out health priorities for the decade

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s