The world’s renewable energy capacity including wind and solar power recorded a sharp rise in 2020 as global demand for oil plummets to its lowest since the second World War.
According to British oil giant BP’s annual report on global energy markets, global wind and solar power capacity grew at a record pace, which saw an increase of 238GW energy output in 2020. The growth is mostly attributed to China, which accounted for approximately 50% of the uptick in total wind and solar energy production in the previous year.
Globally, solar power capacity was up by 22% while wind-power rose about 18%. The current renewable output has more than doubled since 2015.
Meanwhile, global demand for oil took a dive as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns and pandemic restrictions, which saw a significant 9.3% drop for oil consumption – the largest in history. The pandemic also affected the total energy consumption around the world, which was down by 4.5% as well as a 6.3% drop in carbon dioxide emissions, a record low since 2011.
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Other notable findings in the report found that the US, India and Russia contributed to the largest declines in energy consumption, natural gas and coal saw significant declines, and nuclear energy fell 4.1%, driven mainly by declines in France and Japan.
At the moment, renewable energy including biofuels still only accounts for 6% of the world energy consumption whereas oil and coal takes up over 50% of total energy consumption.
Though recent growth in renewable energy has been optimistic, the report warns it will not be enough to meet climate change goals from the Paris Agreement. The world would need to maintain this level of global carbon emissions decline every year for the next 30 years in order to cap global temperature rises well below below 1.5C and achieve an 85% decrease in carbon emissions by 2050.