A few days ago Ethon's food group put up a very depressing chart purporting to show the proportion of global energy consumption that comes from carbon-free sources.
Now, far be it from Eli to question other's Excel skills but one of the things the Bunny likes to do with charts is figure out why they go up or down or don't. Looking at this one, well, the rise from 1970 to 1985 might be an increase in nuclear, especially in France and the FSU, but the stagnation after ~1998 does not seem super likely, and with increased wind and solar, there should be a sharper rise after ~2005 or so IEHO of course. Roger Jr. was kind enough to provide the source, the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, and so the Bunny sent the little (not) birdie off to see
The summary over at BP
Global hydroelectric output grew by a below-average 2.9%. Led by China and India, the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 78% of global growth. Drought conditions reduced output in Brazil by 7% and in Finland, Norway and Sweden by a combined 14.5%. Hydroelectric output accounted for 6.7% of global energy consumption.
Renewable energy sources – in power generation as well as transport – continued to increase in 2013, reaching a record 2.7% of global energy consumption, up from 0.8% a decade ago. Renewable energy used in power generation grew by 16.3% and accounted for a record 5.3% of global power generation. China recorded the largest incremental growth in renewables, followed by the US, while growth in Europe’s leading players – Germany, Spain and Italy – was below average. Globally, wind energy (+20.7%) once again accounted for more than half of renewable power generation growth and solar power generation grew even more rapidly (+33%), but from a smaller base.to which one has to add nuclear as a fossil free energy source. Anyhow this appeared a bit at odds with Roger's message
What you should take from this however is that there remains no evidence of an increase in the proportion of carbon-free energy consumption even remotely consistent with the challenge of atmospheric stabilization of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Those who claim that the world has turned a corner, soon will, or that they know what steps will get us around that corner are dreamers or fools. We don't know. The sooner we accept that, the sooner we can design policies more compatible with policy learning and muddling through.Praise be the bird, Ethon also brought back a wonderful spreadsheet with all the data, so Eli extracted the world total energy consumption by energy source and plotted the results.
Ethon is too damn fat so Eli leaves the pecking to others, but this is damn interesting.
- First, the nuclearization of electricity generation in the 1970s is absolutely clear.
- Second, as can be seen in a chart at BP, the fall off in nuclear since 2000 comes almost entirely from the Asia-Pacific region (eg Japan mostly).
- Third, non-fossil, non-nuclear energy chugs along at a steady level, mostly hydro, until ~2002 when it takes off like a rocket.
- Fourth, the small step jump in the 1970s for non-fossil, non-nuclear might be a reaction to the oil shocks and the step down in int early 1980s is a reflection in the fall in the inflation adjusted price of oil. In a US context, Reagan's dismantling of the energy programs that Carter put in place.
- Fifth, without the fall off in nuclear, non fossil energy consumption might already be near or over 20% of the world total
- Sixth, and bottom line, as any bunny might suspect, the Roger is selling a McGuffin, defined as a desired plot our hero inserts in advancing his argument with no explanation. In this case the explanation destroys his argument It's not that renewables are not growing, it is that nuclear is shrinking. If Barry Brook and Jim Hansen get their way, or even more simply if Japan comes back on line, that trend reverses.
- Seventh, the growth in non-fossil, non nuclear energy is still too slow, because there is also growth in fossil energy use. There is a significant growth in non-carbon energy consumption, principally wind, with solar coming on, but the growth will have to accelerate. This requires policy changes, withdrawal of subsidies for fossil fuels for sure, almost certainly cap and trade or a tax on fossil fuels.
UPDATE: As requested below, the breakout of the various non-fossil sources
with as fernando speculated hydro showing steady growth and an increased rate after 2000, with wind picking up in 2005 and solar after 2010. There is room to grow on the bottom.