The big slide in renewable energy tells the real story

The big slide in renewable energy tells the real story, by Bjorn Lomborg.

We have spent the last two centuries getting off renewables because they were mostly weak, costly and unreliable. Half a century ago, in 1966, the world got 15.6% of its energy from renewables. Today (2016) we still get less of our energy at 13.8%.

With our concern for global warming, we are ramping up the use of renewables. The mainstream reporting lets you believe that renewables are just about to power the entire world. But this is flatly wrong.

The new World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency shows how much renewables will increase over the next quarter century, to 2040. In its New Policies Scenario, which rather optimistically expects all nations to live up to their Paris climate promise, it sees the percentage increase less than 6 percentage points from 13.8% to 19.4%. More realistically, the increase will be 2 percentage points to 15.8%.

Most of the renewables are not solar PV and wind. Today, almost 10 percentage points come from the world’s oldest fuel: wood. Hydropower provides another 2.5 percentage points and all other renewables provide just 1.6 percentage points, of which solar PV and wind provide 0.8 percentage points. …

Most people tend to think about electricity for renewables, but the world uses plenty of energy that is not electricity (heat, transport, manufacture and industrial processes).