Graph of the Day: Why “experts” get it wrong on wind and solar

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We’ve mentioned this before, but one of the striking patterns of behaviour in the energy industry over the last decade┬áhas been the ability of the “established” energy experts to completely underestimate the growth of renewable energy – and to overplay the credentials of fossil fuels.

As we have seen in Australia, this has been a costly exercise, resulting in massive over-investment in poles and wires, and in fossil fuel generation. Similar stories have been played out across the world.

So who is best at getting the forecasts right? This interesting graphic shows that the green NGOs – those accused in dealing in “fantasy” – are a lot closer to the mark, particularly when it comes down to forecasts for wind and solar capacity additions.

The graph below pretty much speaks for itself. Greenpeace has been a lot closer to reality than the International Energy Agency. Perhaps it also has a better grip on how quickly the world can move to a largely renewable-based energy system.

graph of day greenpeace




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  • ac baird

    Yet News Ltd persists in continually referring to anybody of the faintest greenish tint as “extremist”, while industry “experts” (minions) are shamelessly given a pocket hagiography upon each mention of their names. This is a daily, routine phenomenon. This from the motley crew who accuse the ABC of bias. Laughable but serious.

  • Kevin O’Dea

    News Ltd have long ago given up on credibility as they consistently push the corporate agenda of their corporate mates.

  • Michel Syna Rahme

    One other aspect I have not seen much considered in forward long term forecasts for cleaner energy is the probability that we will see a faster more dramatic shift once a majority of the population aged between 63 and 80 pass away (an age bracket in Australia who vote consistently based on their outdated traditional old order world view that most of us can see clearly will not dominate in tomorrow’s world).

    The passing of that demographic should happen between 2020 and 2030, all the while more stringent global agreements limiting CO2 emissions are attained, continued economies of scale favouring cleaner energy technologies, and the rise of a more educated and younger generation from the developing world who will be far greater affected by climate change that wealthy countries. Therefore, the view that the transition to cleaner energy will be easier to contain going forward by those vested interests who stand to lose, is over confident at best. (Overconfidence is usually a sign of stupidity)

    Do superannuation funds, investment houses, and major banks (who will be pushing their luck if they expect another tax payer funded bail out will be palatable) really think its prudent to be making large long term investments in Coal and unconventional gas via fracking within our nations aquifers with undisclosed, secret, protected via proprietary, chemicals?

  • mike

    y axis label?

  • ecoh

    Solar and wind is backed by fossil fuels to compensate intermittency, making it expensive economically.
    “Since solar works only when the sun is out, and wind works only when there is wind (and not too much of it), both of these are unreliable (called non-dispatchable). They require dispatchable backup, which adds greatly to the cost. So for example, wind with NatGas Combined Cycle backup costs $0.09 + $0.07 = $0.16/KWh.”

    • Bob_Wallace

      I think you have a little problem with your logic. When wind and solar are added to grids there’s no need to add fossil fuel backup. Most grids already have a lot of fossil fuel capacity, that’s what they’ve been running on.

      When wind and solar are added coal and gas plants are run less. Fuel is saved. Less CO2 is emitted.

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