Dear little Emily really does not get it does she?
By Emily Gosden, Energy Editor
Global renewable electricity capacity has overtaken coal to become the world’s largest installed power source for the first time, after a record-breaking year in which half a million solar panels were installed every day.
Some 153 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity – more than the total generation capacity of Canada – was installed during the course of 2015, making it the fastest-growing electricity source, the International Energy Agency said.
This was primarily due to unprecedented expansion of solar and onshore wind, with two new wind turbines installed every hour in China, which was the “undisputable global leader of renewable energy expansion”.
As a result, worldwide renewable capacity hit 1,985 GW, or about 31pc of global power capacity, just pipping coal-fired power, which stands at 1,951 GW, the IEA said.
Half a million solar panels were installed every day last year, the IEA estimates Credit: China Daily
However, the actual amount of power produced by renewable electricity generators was still significantly lower than that from coal, accounting for 23pc of global power production, compared with almost 40pc from coal plants.
This is because power plants do not generate at their full capacity all the time, with sources like wind and solar able to generate at their maximum capacity only when the wind blows or the sun shines.
The IEA forecast that renewables expansion would continue apace, with 825 GW expected to be built by 2021 – 13pc more than the IEA had forecast just a year ago – “driven by policies aimed at enhancing energy security and sustainability”.
That should help boost the share of renewable power in the global electricity mix to 28pc by 2021, “rapidly closing the gap with coal” in the medium term, the IEA said.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the world will soon be able to rely on little else but renewable energy! At least, until you’ve checked the actual facts anyway.
Despite all of the hype, last year renewable energy, excluding hydro, still only supplied 7% of the world’s electricity. This includes wind, solar, biomass and geo.
Hydro electricity is shown separately for two very good reasons:
1) Most of it has been around for a number of years. A decade ago, for instance hydro supplied 16% of global electricity, just as it does now (although of course total output of both have risen).
2) There is very little scope worldwide for any more significant amounts of hydro capacity to be built.
For those pushing other forms of renewable energy, it is a common trick include hydro in total renewable output, in order to give the impression that wind and solar power are much more significant than they actually are.
The article then repeats the usual scam of talking about “capacity”, rather than “output”, although Emily Gosden does briefly touch on the issue further into the article. Nevertheless the headline and main section of the story will leave an extremely misleading impression on most people, many of whom won’t even bother to read to the end.
The IEA forecast that an extra 825 GW of renewable capacity will be built by 2021, yet, based on a realistic 15% capacity utilisation, this will only yield an extra 1084 TWh a year. Based on current electricity generation, this would increase renewables share from 7% to 11%. However, since it is likely that total generation will continue to grow, renewable share will be much less than that.
Unsurprisingly, the article is little more than a cut and paste of the IEA’s press release here. The IEA probably used to be an impartial source of energy data and projections. Unfortunately, for a while now, it has been politicised, and is no more than a pawn in the push for renewable energy and decarbonisation.
Having taken another look at the BP figures, the reality that our dear little Emily alludes to, is that non hydro renewables contribution to global electricity generation has increased from 5.9% in 2014, to 6.7% last year.
Truly astounding, I am sure you would agree!!!!