Status of Renewables in 12 Charts

There was a recent article on Vox.com recapping a 250 page  Renewables Global Status Report (GSR). Here’s my condensed version of the recap:

The trend in renewables is heading in the right direction with China leading the way. Solar, which is not the leading source of production, lined up 3rd behind Hydro & Wind and virtually tied with bio-mass, but it is leading the way in growth. From a construction standpoint renewables means a lot of jobs. Plus, the overwhelming majority of energy we consume is a result of buildings (constructing, heating/cooling, & powering) with transportation being second. So if we’re going to tackle this problem how we build buildings and what we install inside those buildings will have to change.

The one thing not mentioned in this article is energy storage. It’s the elephant in the room; unless we find a way to store energy we’ll never get to where we want to be with renewables. Here’s a short podcast on the energy storage trend.

1. Renewable Clean Energy is On the Rise. In the last 10 years global renewable energy capacity installation has grown to close to 60%. This is more than new fossil fuel and nuclear capacity combined.

2. Solar Gets Credit for Growth in Renewables. In 2018 55% of renewable energy installations were solar, followed by wind power at 28%, and hydropower at 11%.

3. China Has Led in Solar Growth for the past 5 Years. In 2018 China’s total solar capacity was about the same as India, Germany, Japan, and US combined.

4. China Doesn’t Stop at Solar. China accounted for more than 30% of the world’s investment in renewables in 2018. In addition to the commitment to solar, China also was the greatest investor in hydro and wind.

5. Investments in Renewables are Paying Off. About 30% of the world’s installed electric capacity is renewable, and despite all the talk about solar, hydropower actually accounts for more than 50% of renewable electricity. 

6. Solar Energy is Labor Intensive. Even though solar energy accounts for only about 2.4% of renewable electricity, solar installations account for most renewable energy jobs around the globe. 

7. Other Energy Sectors Need to Focus on Renewables. Heating and cooling and transportation combined account for more than 80% of global energy use, but less than 15% of the energy is renewable. 

8. Transportation’s Shift from Fossil Fuels to Electricity is Real. Around the world, the number of passenger cars running on electricity has increased 63% since 2017, led sharply by China.

9. Renewable Energy Use is Growing out from within Cities. Cities contain more than 50% of the world’s population and represent about 65% of the world’s energy demand. On average, about 41% of the energy cities use is renewable, while on average countries rely on 26% of renewable energy sources.

10. Fossil Fuel Subsidies Thwart Growth in Renewables. By 2017 fossil fuel subsidies rose to $300B, about twice the amount of money supporting renewable power globally, despite at least 40 countries agreeing to reform the system.

11. Energy Intensity Demands Need to Slow at Least 10% Faster. The amount of energy needed to produce one unit of GDP is not declining fast enough to offset the rise demand for energy from growing population and economies. 

12. We have 30 Years to Increase Renewable Use by About 95%. Fossil fuels provided about 80% of the world’s energy as recent as 2017 with just about 11% of the energy use was renewable

Would love to hear your opinion on renewable energy. Are we destined to fail? Will we be there in no time? Let us know what you think in the comments or on social!

Author: Joe Kelly

Website builder and podcaster for people who dig construction 🔨 🚧

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