Here comes the wind
The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced a couple of weeks ago
that 2014 saw renewables, mostly wind and solar, had risen in use enough to become the second-largest source of electricity used on the planet earth.
The growth in non-hydro renewable electricity was driven by solar and wind. In 2014, solar photovoltaic overtook solid biofuels to become the second largest source of non-hydro renewable electricity in OECD Europe, with a share of 17.3%. Since 1990, solar photovoltaic has been increasing at an average growth rate of 44.6% per year, and wind at 27.1% per year.
Growth in electricity generation continues to be driven by non-OECD countries. The latest data released by the IEA shows that global electricity generation increased by 2.9% between 2012 and 2013. The data shows clearly two distinct trends. Electricity generation is levelling off within the OECD, with a negative annual average growth rate (AAGR) of -0.35% between 2010 and 2013, while it is strongly rising in the rest of the world (AAGR 5.6%). As a consequence, in 2011 non-OECD countries produced more electricity than OECD countries for the first time in history.
This trend is good news and is not the only positive to come out of this study.
Other milestones were reached in 2013, when global non-hydro renewable electricity exceeded oil-fired generation for the first time and renewable electricity overtook natural gas to become the world’s second largest source of electricity, producing 22 percent of the total.
The reality, however, is that the human race still relies heavily on coal for our electric needs. We are also using more electricity than ever.
In the same year, electricity generated by coal reached its highest level yet at 9,613 TWh, representing 41.1 percent of global electricity production. The growth in coal generation was driven by non-OECD countries.
So the growth of renewable in the non-OECD countries is correlated to their surging growth in general and the increasing demands for power in those countries. This is apparent in the rise in renewable electricity being driven by the residential and commercial and public markets—according to the IEA:
On a global level, the majority of renewable energy is consumed in the residential, commercial and public services sectors. However, two patterns can be identified: in the non-OECD countries only 22.3% of renewables are used for electricity and heat production and 60.7% in the residential, commercial and public sectors; in the OECD countries, more than half of the renewable primary energy supply (58.5%) is used to generate electricity and heat.