The Decline of Renewable Energy

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from NCPA,

Many today believe that renewable energy will allow us to get off fossil fuels soon. Unfortunately, the facts say otherwise. Solar and wind energy account for a trivial proportion of current renewables, which is about one-third of one percentage point. The vast majority comes from biomass, or wood and plant material, which is humanity’s oldest energy source. While biomass is renewable, it is often neither good nor sustainable, says Bjørn Lomborg, the founder and director the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

The indoor air pollution that biomass produces kills more than 3 million people annually.

According to International Energy Agency (IEA) data, 13.12 percent of the world’s energy came from renewables in 1971, the first year that the IEA reported global statistics. In 2011, renewables’ share was actually lower, at 12.99 percent.

Yet a new survey shows that Americans believe that the share of renewables in 2035 will be 30.2 percent.

In reality, it will likely be 14.5 percent.

The reality is that humanity has spent recent centuries getting away from renewables. In 1800, the world obtained 94 percent of its energy from renewable sources. That figure has been declining ever since.

To be sure, wind and solar have increased dramatically. Since 1990, wind-generated power has grown 26 percent per year and solar a phenomenal 48 percent. But the growth has been from almost nothing to slightly more than almost nothing. In 1990, wind produced 0.0038 percent of the world’s energy; it is now producing 0.29 percent. Solar-electric power has gone from essentially zero to 0.04 percent.

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