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UK sixth in global ranking for share of power generated by wind and solar

The UK has ranked sixth in the world for the share of its electricity it produces from clean wind and solar power, analysis shows.

The assessment revealing the top 15 wind and solar power countries by climate and energy think tank Ember shows Denmark is leading the way, generating 61% of its electricity from the two renewable sources, followed by Uruguay on 44%.

The UK comes in sixth in the ranking, behind Ireland, Germany and Spain, generating 29% of its power from wind and solar in 2020.

The ranking comes after Ember’s recent global electricity review which revealed that wind and solar produced almost a 10th of the world’s electricity in 2020, a doubling since 2015 when they generated 5% of global power.

In terms of the total amount of electricity generated by wind and solar, China, the EU-27 and the United States lead the way, accounting for two-thirds of global generation from the renewables.

Meanwhile, countries such as Vietnam, Chile and South Korea have seen rapid growth in wind and solar generation.

A recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) showed almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built around the world last year will be able to generate electricity more cheaply than the world’s cheapest new fossil fuel plants.

But the International Energy Agency (IEA) warns that 100% clean power is needed by 2040 worldwide to curb climate emissions to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, seen as a threshold beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt.

In the analysis, Ember warned that building enough wind and solar just to keep up with growing power demand will be a key challenge for many countries, as sectors such as heating and transport switch to using electricity.

In the next decade, clean electricity deployment must accelerate to replace fossil fuels and meet rising demand for electricity as the world’s economy electrifies and to provide electricity access for all, the think tanks said.

Charles Moore, Ember’s Europe lead, said: “Wind and solar will be the backbone of the electricity system of the future.

“Countries like the UK are already proving that wind and solar are up to the job.

“However, there is still work to do for advanced economies to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035 and play their part to avoid dangerous climate change.”

He added: “In the last decade, the UK has led the way in a rapid coal phase-out,” and said that as hosts of global Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow this year, the UK could steer the world away from fossil fuels and towards clean electricity.