Renewable energy is growing too slow to stop climate change

A new study published in Nature Energy shows that the growth rate for wind and solar power is lower than required to stop climate change. The study, conducted by the Chalmers University of Technology, Lund University in Sweden, and Central European University in Austria, has found that no country is moving fast enough to curb global warming from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius. The study found that the production of renewable energy has been increasing at a dismal rate. 

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The researchers reviewed renewable energy production in 60 countries and found that the growth rate for wind and solar was lower than required in almost all countries. According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a 1.4-3% yearly growth rate for renewables is needed to keep global warming below 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius.

Related: Wind is the leading source of renewable energy

“This is the first time that the maximum growth rate in individual countries has been accurately measured, and it shows the enormous scale of the challenge of replacing traditional energy sources with renewables, as well as the need to explore diverse technologies and scenarios,” said Jessica Jewell, Associate Professor of Energy Transitions at the Chalmers University of Technology.

In an analysis of the 60 largest countries, researchers found that the maximum growth rate for onshore wind power averages 0.8% of total electricity supply per year and 0.6% for solar. These figures are far lower than IPCC predictions. Among the countries reviewed, only smaller ones such as Portugal, Chile and Ireland managed significant growth rates above 2% for wind and 1.5% for solar.

Aleh Cherp, professor of Environmental Sciences and Policy at Central European University and Lund University, says that the whole world is now behind schedule. According to the Paris Climate Accord, the world must keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius based on pre-industrial levels to prevent hazardous climatic occurrences. Unfortunately, sluggish progress has remained a stumbling block across the world.

“Among larger countries, only Germany has so far been able to sustain growth of onshore wind power comparable with median climate stabilization scenarios. In other words, to stay on track for climate targets, the whole world should build wind power as fast as Germany built recently,” said Cherp.

+ Nature Energy