Forty years of subsidy and wind and solar provide all of 1.3% of global energy

The 2015 BP Statistical Review of World Energy is out.

It is an excellent reality check for those who care to subject their religious views about energy and climate to some sanity checks.

Subsidies for solar and wind and even bio-mass began around 1975. They took off after about 1985. I just note that after 40 years of subsidising wind and solar power, these two sources of energy provide all of 1.3% of the global energy consumption in 2014. I note also that the global energy need that people aspire to is almost double that actually consumed.

Energy consumption 1975 and 2014

Energy consumption 1975 and 2014

Fossil fuels contributed 86.3% of global energy in 2014 and have more than doubled since 1975. While carbon dioxide emissions from the use of fossil fuels had increased by 110%, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose from 330 ppm in 1975 to reach 398 ppm in October 2015, an increase of about 20%. The man-made emissions are still less than 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions and there is still no certainty as to how much – if any – of the man-made emissions contribute to the carbon concentration in the atmosphere. And the satellite record shows that there has been no significant increase in global temperature over the last 19 years.

It is not that solar and wind power do not have their niches where they make sense. But without energy storage, the need for back-up capacity always adds a hidden cost. The intermittent nature of the source then means that they can never make more than a marginal contribution. The problem with subsidies is that they can’t make the wind to blow or the sun to shine. And even when the sun is shining, the subsidies can’t control cloud cover. What I dislike even more about subsidies is that they have not been used to develop energy storage. Instead they have distorted the market, put large sums of money into the pockets of “cowboy” developers and have provided no benefits to the consumers. Solar and wind hardly show up when looking at global energy consumption since 1965.

Global energy consumption 1965 - 2014. Data from 2015 BP Statistical Energy Review

Global energy consumption 1965 – 2014. Data from 2015 BP Statistical Energy Review

To see the growth in wind and solar on the same diagram as fossil fuel consumption, it is necessary to use a log scale.

Global Energy Consumption log scale 1965 - 2014. Data source 2015 BP Statistical review of Energy

Global Energy Consumption log scale 1965 – 2014. Data source 2015 BP Statistical review of Energy

Which makes one wonder why the Paris conference is taking place at all. A more pointless exercise, and one which has no real measurable objectives , is hard to imagine.

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One Response to “Forty years of subsidy and wind and solar provide all of 1.3% of global energy”

  1. Quaranta anni di sussidi ma l'eolico e il solare forniscono solamente l'1.3% dell'energia globale : Attività Solare ( Solar Activity ) Says:

    […] Fonte: forty years of subsidy and wind and solar provide all of 1.3 of global energy […]

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