In response to an unprecedented public health crisis, countries around the world had hoped to seize the post-COVID-19 opportunity for a green and equitable recovery. Unfortunately, and despite record growth in renewable energy deployment in 2021, this historic chance has been lost. As of mid-2022, the world was experiencing its biggest energy crisis on record. Although this crisis was exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, prices for fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas – were already spiking by late 2021, leading to the threat of energy poverty for billions of people.

Despite evidence that renewables are the most affordable energy source to both improve resilience and support decarbonisation, governments across the world continue to resort to fossil fuel subsidies to keep energy bills under control. This growing gap between countries’ ambition and action on the ground is alarming and sends a clear warning that the global energy transition is not happening.

We now stand at a historic crossroads. Instead of continuing to support a fossil fuel-based energy order, which serves only some and triggers massive natural and economic disasters affecting all countries and citizens, we need to take bold action to phase out fossil fuels and accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency and renewables. Decision makers can no longer delay the structural reforms that are urgently needed not only to preserve the climate and the environment but also to reduce the vulnerability of our economies to geopolitical threats.

The Renewables 2022 Global Status Report documents the progress made in the renewable energy sector. It highlights the opportunities afforded by a renewable-based economy and society, including the ability to achieve more diversified and inclusive energy governance through localised energy generation and value chains. Countries with higher shares of renewables in their total energy consumption enjoy a greater level of energy independence and security.

The report also illustrates the power of a collective intelligence. This year, more than 650 experts have contributed data and information. I would like to thank all of them and extend particular thanks to the Research Direction Team of Duncan Gibb, Nathalie Ledanois, Lea Ranalder and Hend Yaqoob; Special Advisors Adam Brown and Janet L. Sawin (Sunna Research); the many authors; our editors, Lisa Mastny and Kelly Trumbull; our designers, Caren Weeks, Nicole Winter and Sebastian Ross; and all those who provided data and participated in the peer-review process.

I hope that you will find in this report the knowledge, data, perspective and inspiration to help and support you in your efforts to make renewable energy the undisputable backbone of our economies and societies.

Rana Adib
Executive Director, REN21

June 2021