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Renewable Energy in Numbers [INFOGRAPHIC]

About 17% of our worldwide energy consumption comes from renewables. And that share has not increased in recent years.

However, in coming years, wind energy and solar energy will probably bring that share of renewables up. Though the possibilities vary a lot by country. For instance, Iceland is making use of its great geothermal potential while Norway is relying a lot on hydropower.

The following infographic looks at our portfolio of renewables and offers an overview of the share of renewables in the energy supply, country by country.

This is part 2 of a 2-part series. Have a look at part 1 for an overview of our total worldwide energy consumption in numbers, including fossil fuels.

Content Discussion

I K's picture
I K on June 11, 2013

Currently worldwide electricity demand is INCREASING by nearly 1,000TWh annually while last year enough solar and wind was deployed to generate about 50TWh annually. That means solar/wind is meeting about 5% and fossil fuels 95% of the ADDITIONAL electricity demand.

Thus wind/solar would need to be deployed at a rate of 20x now to just stand still.  Do the wind/solar cheer leaders think this possible? Could Germany install 200GW solar PV a year instead of 10GW? Could the USA install 260GW of wind a year instead of 13GW?  Of course the answer is no. There is no solution to fossil fuel burn growing over the next 20-30 years its going to grow. The only option is how fast you want it to grow.

1,000TWh annually or perhaps just 500TWh annually if nuclear is made acceptable again.

Ivor O'Connor's picture
Ivor O'Connor on June 11, 2013

Nice article. I wish that it had shown a break down of wind and solar with better detail since these are the fuels of the future.

Matthieu Tanguay-Carel's picture
Matthieu Tanguay-Carel on June 12, 2013

Can I ask where you are getting your numbers? In the Renewables 2012 report, REN21 reports that: “as in previous years, about half of the new electricity capacity installed worldwide was renewable based.”

So this won’t be enough to bring the _total_ share of renewables up in the near future, but it’s a good start and it shows commitment.

Ivor O'Connor's picture
Ivor O'Connor on June 12, 2013

Don’t bother asking for details from IK. He is busy pasting the same message all over the web. There are no references to real data.

 

I K's picture
I K on June 12, 2013

capacity is not what is important it is generation. 

Last year nearly 35GW of solar and 45GW of wind was installed. These will generate approx 150TWh of electricity this year and fall as they degrade over time.

By comparison world primary energy consumption has been growing by around 2,500TWh annually. So wind and solar is not reducing FF usage its just meeting about 6 percent of the additional demand. 

The world would need to deploy at around 20x last years record rates to just stop FF growing.

This 20x deployment rate is impossible and we will likely find that last years deployment rate will be difficult to maintain long term

I K's picture
I K on June 12, 2013

Why not go find the data and prove me wrong?

Demand for electricity is expected to go towards 32,000TWh over the next 20 years which means roughly 600TWh annual increase.

Demand for primary energy is expected to grow 40% during the same time which means more than 2,500TWh annual increase

I would alao go so far as to say these are conservative estimates. The rise of india may be faster than that of china becuase in twenty years time india will have on its doorstep the qorlds biggest economy to trade with

Bob Lee's picture
Bob Lee on June 12, 2013

Interesting banter. I K is on the right track. The reliance of, for example, the EU on renewables is having a deleterious effect on Eu’s economy as the prices paid for electricity is threatening to further cripple the EU’s economy. Reliable, affordabler energy is the most important factor for economic growth. This graph show the impact shale gas has had on US energy prices and, as a direct result, we are seeing expansions in the US industrial sector not seen for many years.

While renewables will be part of our solution, the are certainly not a “Nirvana” solution due to the expense and somewhat unreliable nature of their electricity production. In regions where the is little or no fossil fue availability (ie: parts of Africa) the use of solar/wind/biomass can offer a bridge to energy production until fossil fuels can be economically deployed. What is happening recently in Europe is the re-emergence of coal as the primary fuel for energy production. What needs to happen is a change in the perception that natural gas is a clean energy provider that is abundant and available to most of the EU but needs to be extracted thru hydraulic fracturing. Until that time, Europe will continue to be in the grip of Russia for gad and the US for coal.

Ivor O'Connor's picture
Ivor O'Connor on June 12, 2013

You’ll notice the paid trolls sound very reliable. Like a pontificating professor. However notice it’s always conclusions. If they were real experts they’d give references. And not to themselves but to actual multiple studies to address the issues from multiple sides. Instead they attempt to persuade or at a minimum spread doubt on those who are not aware of the work being done. In other words they are most effective when put up against the Al Gore followers.

I K's picture
I K on June 12, 2013

In my view we are going about this the wrong way. Currently solar is a bad idea, wind is ok, nuclear is good. But efficiency and enabling technology tops all of those combined.

The $500B spent on solar bought 110TWh annual generation (decreasing with degrade over time).

It could have bought perhaps 3x as much wind or 10x as much nuclear. But that cash spent on brining computer cars to market sooner would yield perhaps 100x as much in energy demand falls. Or using the cash to just upgrade 40 year old coal/gas plants to new ones would have saved perhaps a magnitude more in fossil fuel burn. Just upgrading the USA/Europe coal/gas fleet to new tech would have potentially saved around 20% in coal/gas burn and I would wager it could have been done for less than $500B. instead of this 20% drop in usage from upgrading FF plants we have solar providing 0.5% of demand

I K's picture
I K on June 12, 2013

Post the picture of your cat with its tin foil hat on so we know you are not being controlled by the mind control devises the FBI has.

Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on June 12, 2013

The BP statistical review is probably the most reliable publically available source of quantitative energy statistics. According to this source, global electricity generation increased by 652.3 TWh in 2011 over 2010.  Generation from wind increased by 89.6 TWh and solar by 25.8 TWh. Thus, wind and solar accounted for 17.7% of new electricity generation. Solar and wind installations in 2012 were very similar to those in 2011 and 2013 is projected to be quite similar again, implying that these numbers should be representative for the next few years at least. The truth therefore seems to be somewhere between your 50% and IK’s 5%. 

An important point to mention though is that it is a fallacy to value intermittent renewable electricity and steady baseline power similarly. Quantifying this is very difficult, but when the true economic value of the new generating capacity is calculated, wind and solar will probably contribute substantially less than 17.7%. 

Also, when looking at total energy consumption, the world consumed 296.8 Mtoe more in 2011 than in 2010. 29.3 Mtoe (about 10%) of this increase was from all renewable sources except for hydro (which contributed 12.5 Mtoe to the increase). Coal accounted for fully 192.3 Mtoe (65%) of this increase. 

Bob Lee's picture
Bob Lee on June 12, 2013

Ok, I accept Ivor’s challenge but to clarify I am no paid troll however I do pontificate from time to time.

Here is a link to a study from the Netherlands that contains a number of references noting the failure of Europe’s wind experiment. The study concludes that “from an economic point of view the use of wind and solar energy production is an enormous waste of resources.”

http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html

The EIA recently produced a study that discusses the levelized cost of various forms of energy generation. Offshore wind farms can in at more than double coal and three times higher than gas. Onshore wind projects came in at the middle of the pack comapred to natural gas but only has a capacity load factor of 34% compared to Combined Cycle gas at 87%. Solar fared much worse. Hardly the energy sources of the future. (But there I go pontificating again).

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

As I mentioned above, Europe is finally waking up to the true costs of wind-power and the problems it is causing their manufacturing sector. Quoted from a May, 2013 speech ,European President Herman Van Pompuy agreed that Europe needed to face up to the challenge posed by the success of US shale gas and oil which has slashed prices and undercut European competitiveness.  “All leaders are aware that sustainable and affordable energy is key to keeping factories and jobs in Europe,” Van Pompuy told the media. He acknowledged that, “Industry finds it hard to compete with foreign firms who pay half the price for electricity, like in the United States.” –

 

Additionally, English Prime Minister Cameron is now “thinking very carefully” about continuing subsidies to wind generation in the UK; acknowledging the negative economic impact it has on consumers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/10115983/David-Cameron-hints-at-further-cuts-to-green-energy-subsidies.html

Bob Lee's picture
Bob Lee on June 12, 2013

Ok, I accept Ivor’s challenge but to clarify I am no paid troll however I do pontificate from time to time.

Here is a link to a study from the Netherlands that contains a number of references noting the failure of Europe’s wind experiment. The study concludes that “from an economic point of view the use of wind and solar energy production is an enormous waste of resources.”

http://www.clepair.net/windsecret.html

The EIA recently produced a study that discusses the levelized cost of various forms of energy generation. Offshore wind farms can in at more than double coal and three times higher than gas. Onshore wind projects came in at the middle of the pack comapred to natural gas but only has a capacity load factor of 34% compared to Combined Cycle gas at 87%. Solar fared much worse. Hardly the energy sources of the future. (But there I go pontificating again).

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

As I mentioned above, Europe is finally waking up to the true costs of wind-power and the problems it is causing their manufacturing sector. Quoted from a May, 2013 speech ,European President Herman Van Pompuy agreed that Europe needed to face up to the challenge posed by the success of US shale gas and oil which has slashed prices and undercut European competitiveness.  “All leaders are aware that sustainable and affordable energy is key to keeping factories and jobs in Europe,” Van Pompuy told the media. He acknowledged that, “Industry finds it hard to compete with foreign firms who pay half the price for electricity, like in the United States.” –

 

Additionally, English Prime Minister Cameron is now “thinking very carefully” about continuing subsidies to wind generation in the UK; acknowledging the negative economic impact it has on consumers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/10115983/David-Cameron-hints-at-further-cuts-to-green-energy-subsidies.html

Ivor O'Connor's picture
Ivor O'Connor on June 12, 2013

Well your first reference states wind and solar are an enormous waste of resources. The study is dated 2008. This study says just the opposite and states the problem is just the opposite. Germany is producing too much energy and must now be exported. Dated 2012.

http://enenews.com/germany-producing-too-much-power-after-turning-off-nuclear-reactors-experts-warn-gas-driven-plants-are-shutting-down-wind-solar-hydro-are-too-cheap/comment-page-1

I suppose the EIA numbers in your second reference must be right and that it makes no economic sense to use anything other than fossil fuels. They have been saying that for years. Someday we as a planet will catch on. Just good common sense right?

Your last reference is from a politician?! The one that got into office by promising to be “greenest government ever”? Now he’s blaming costs on solar and wind “even though the Department of Energy and Climate Change largely blames the rising cost of gas for soaring energy costs”. (I’m just quoting from the article you referenced.)

Seems new energy throughout the world is being handled quite nicely with solar and wind.

 

George Stevens's picture
George Stevens on June 18, 2013

Well if Germany is so great then why have both emissions and costs of electricity increased as more wind and solar have been interconnected in recent years?

 wind and solar are good, but do have an understanding of scalability issues, or have justified reasons for not supporting clean base load options such as nuclear?

and please let’s stop calling people trolls simply because they disagree with you.

George Stevens's picture
George Stevens on June 18, 2013

Good correction Schalk.

I think the problem is that people are evaluating on the basis of installed capacity, which as you know isn’t correct since the capacity factors of wind and solar are low in comparison to other generation methods and this needs to be accounted for. 

The best way to do that is to compare kWhs produced rather than capacity installed, such as you have done in the above post.

George Stevens's picture
George Stevens on June 18, 2013

Installed Capacity is only part of the story, you also need to account for capacity factor or your comparison is meaningless.

capacity factor for wind is around 30% depending on site

solar PV is about 16%

conventional generation including coal, natural gas, and nuclear, are above 90% capacity factor.