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Renewable energy hit record growth in 2021

terça-feira, maio 31, 2022


Renewable energy hit record highs in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Despite the persistent challenges generated by the disruption of the supply chains of industrial supplies caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the increases in renewable energy capacity increased 6% and broke another record, reaching about 295 GW (about 20 Itaipu plants). This growth is slightly higher than predicted last year by the IEA itself.

It should be noted that this growth occurred before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and makes it clear that the progress of the energy transition occurs mainly in periods of peace and not war. Overcoming the era of fossil fuels is urgent ly needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, implement so-called "reverse carbonization" and prevent catastrophic global warming.

Overall, there was a 17% decline in annual wind capacity additions in 2021. However, this was offset by an increase in photovoltaic solar energy and growth in hydroelectric installations. The expansion of bioenergy, concentrated solar energy (CSP) and geothermal energy was stable in 2021 compared to 2020. In terms of growth speed, the year-on-year increase in renewable capacity in 2021 was slower after an exceptional jump in 2020, as shown in the chart below.

China maintained its isolated leadership in market share of the new deployments in 2021, accounting for 46% of renewable capacity additions worldwide. However, china's new capacity decreased by 2% over the previous year, as shown in the chart below. Europe ranks second in increasing installed capacity, well behind China, but ahead of the United States. India has advanced, but well behind China, Europe and the USA. The same can be said of Latin America. But overall there is an advance in renewable energy around the world.

Amid the global energy crisis and worsening climate emergency, the UN and its partners launched in May 2022 two new initiatives to accelerate action to achieve clean and affordable energy for all and the ambitious goal of zero net carbon emissions. The 2025 UN Energy Action Plan delivers on commitments at a high-level meeting in September, which established a global roadmap for access and transition to energy by the end of the decade, and contribute to zero net emissions by 2050. An Energy Compact Action Network has also been launched to combine governments seeking support for their clean energy goals with governments and companies that have already pledged more than $600 billion in assistance.

However, even if the world manages to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (which reached 421 ppm in May 2022) could exceed 500 ppm by 2050 and make global warming uncontrollable within the limits necessary to avoid an environmental and civilizational tragedy.

In fact, the world based on renewable energy is not only desirable with is inevitable. That is why it says: "The future will be renewable or there will be no future." But while the advance of renewable energies is an auspicious fact and is occurring at a faster pace than anticipated at the beginning of the present century, humanity continues to burn hydrocarbons and increase greenhouse gas emissions at an alarming rate.

It's not simple to make the energy transition. A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change (2022) said the rate of change needed to address the climate crisis is so great that the rapid collapse of the fossil fuel industries presents major transition risks. The researchers estimated that existing $1.4 trillion oil and gas projects would lose their value if the world moved decisively to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming to 2°C.  By tracking many thousands of projects across 1.8 million companies to their final owners, the team found that most of the losses would be borne by individual individuals through their pensions, investment funds and equity holdings.

What's more, there are many doubts as to whether the increased installed capacity of renewable energy will be able to work on a global smart grid. Gail Tverberg (30/01/2017) considers that there is a lot of illusion being sold in the name of "clean" energies. Although, without a doubt, the progress of the energy transition is better than dependence on fossil fuels. The sun and wind are abundant and renewable natural resources, but certainly they cannot perform miracles or avoid the imperative of entropic metabolism, as the School of Ecological Economics teaches.

Humanity has already exceeded the planet's load capacity. As environmentalist Ted Trainer (2012) warned, renewable energy is not enough to maintain the exponential growth of people's expectations for a high conspicuous consumption pattern. Trainer preaches a more frugal world, with demoeconomic degrowth, where people love a lifestyle based on the principles of Voluntary Simplicity.

The world urgently needs to decarbonize the economy and recover ecosystems, in addition to expanding the anecumenic areas and promoting the well-being of all living species on the Planet. Zeroing deforestation and burning, planting trees and reclaiming forests is an urgent need.

Above all, the change of the energy matrix is a necessary condition, but not enough to face the climate and ecological crisis. It is also a necessary condition, but not enough to prevent oil wars. Of course, the economic and behavioral revolution to save life on the planet goes far beyond the simple growth of renewable energies. But there will not be a peaceful and sustainable world if the end of the world of fossil fuels and the social privileges that oil sustains is not planned.

Humanity has already surpassed the Earth's load capacity and increases the likelihood of a global systemic collapse. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report in May 2022 showing that there was a negative record in four key indicators of the climate crisis: concentrations of greenhouse gases, rising sea levels, heat and ocean acidification. Thus, the world needs global demoeconomic degrowth and the energy transition is an essential step towards process of decarbonising the economy.

A report by consultancy Deloitte shows that if the world acts immediately to rapidly achieve zero net emissions by mid-century, limiting global warming to up to 1.5°C by the end of the century, the transformation of the economy would prepare the world for stronger economic growth by 2070. Such a transformation could increase the size of the world economy by $43 trillion in terms of net present value from 2021-2070.

On the contrary, if climate change is not controlled it could cost the global economy $178 trillion in terms of net present value from 2021-2070. Human costs would be much higher: lack of food and water, loss of jobs, worsening of health and well-being, reduction of living standards.

Source: EcoDebate

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