rss
64

This is just the start of the solar age – seven graphs show why

Print Friendly

It is tempting to think – given the record-breaking installations of solar PV in China, and on a different scale in Australia – that the world is well into the new age of solar.

But a striking new report from an independent source sheds new light on what awaits us. Importantly, it shows that the world has only just begun the age of solar, and has installed only a tiny fraction of what will follow.

The Energy Transition Outlook comes from DNV, a European-firm that provides independent assessments for both the fossil fuel industries (particularly oil and gas) and the renewable energy industry. You could say they have a foot in both camps.

That makes its detailed forecast for the impending energy transition striking. It holds no good news for oil – it says that industry production will peak in a few years and decline rapidly thereafter.

But it also suggests that the world’s energy consumption as a whole will peak within a decade – shedding forever the link between GDP and energy growth. And it says one of the biggest reasons for this is the efficiency of wind and solar. It notes that with fossil fuels, so much of the primary energy is wasted as heat.

And it predicts a big future for renewables, and solar in particular. That’s because wind and solar will be far cheaper than fossil fuels.

And in contrast to ultra-conservative forecasts from the likes of the International Energy Agency, DNV predicts renewables will make up 44 per cent of primary energy supply by 2050 and 85 per cent of electricity supply.

“Changes are coming so fast that it will surprise many people, even inside the industry”, one of the lead authors Sverre Alvik told Energy Post in an interview.

So here are a selection of our favourite graphs and a brief commentary with each:

world primary solar.The first highlights just how early we are into the age of solar. See 2017, it’s barely a blip on the graph. According to DNV, the world is producing and consuming only a few “exajoules” of solar a year right now, but over the next decades that will increase 80-fold.

The various colours are the regions of the world…

world solar pv capacity

The second graph (above) is the amount of solar capacity being installed each year. Here it is seen that the construction growth rate is well under way, but will rise four fold to more than 400GW by the early 2020s and steadily increase to 700GW by 2050.

The next few graphs illustrate the anticipated share of solar PV in the power mix in various countries, and two key markets for Australia – China and India. It is important to note here that these graphs illustrate not the share of capacity, but the share of output, which is far more significant..

So, in case anyone (federal government resources ministers or coal mining lobbies, for instance) tells you that the two biggest energy consumers – China and India – will be focused on coal, here’s a couple of graphs to shatter that illusion.

china electricity type.

The first of these graphs is China (above), showing that coal-fired generation (in the blue) has likely already peaked. Even more strikingly, it suggests that coal generation in China would be all but gone by 2050, replaced largely by solar, wind, hydro and other sources.

india electricity by power station

 

Even more dramatically, from the solar point of view, is this graph (above) on India, which shows India relying on solar for more than half of its electricity generation from about 2030, and an overwhelming majority by 2050.

Coal generation does not grow much beyond the current levels – which will shatter the dreams of those who think it will rise by a factor of two or three. So, while the country hauls itself up to be one of the most dominant economies in the world – it will largely be renewables powered, and mostly solar-powered.

global generation capacity

Indeed, this next graph shows the capacity additions that are expected over the next 30 years. There is no boom in coal, only in renewables. That’s something to think about for the people making decisions about financing proposed thermal coal export projects.

global generation production.

And this graph above is what the technology share looks like in 2050 in the electricity market. Coal’s share? Just 2.7 per cent.

decoupling of energy

This final graph (above) illustrates the decoupling of the growth in GDP and population, and energy use and emissions.

Sadly, however, those emission reductions are not enough to meet the Paris climate target of limiting global warming to “well below” 2°C target. DNV says if we are to get close, it will depend not just on the complete decarbonisation of electricity, but the electrification of nearly all energy uses, particularly transport.

And if we are to meet the 1.5°C target, that more and more scientists now admit may be essential to avoid the worse impact of global warming, then we are already on the point of exhausting the world’s carbon budget.

DNV puts this at within four years, an estimate supported by research by other groups such as Climate Analytics, the Potsdam Institute, and reinforced by former UNFCCC secretary Christiana Figueres during her visit to Australia this week.

Which means the world will overshoot, and then find a way back to reduce the levels of global warming.

The interview at Energy Post with Alvik and Paul Gardner, who led the storage component, is interesting reading. Gardner says storage is currently being held back by regulations that limit the role that networks can play, which may also be true in Australia.

But these two bits caught our attention, the first on whether a 100 per cent renewable energy is realistic:

“It is possible to build a secure system with a very high level of renewable energy”, says Gardner. “But in our projections we don’t quite get to 100%. We see quite a bit of ‘peaking’ gas generation to go with renewables by 2050. We have a lot of wind, a lot of solar and a lot of gas plant that spends a lot of time doing nothing. Even when we include the backup costs for the gas-fired power, this still looks attractive.”

And then:

“Gardner does add there is one thing that the model does not yet take into account, namely the effect that temporary surpluses of wind and solar power will have on the economics of renewables. ‘We have not yet shown what the impact is of that.’ However, he says, ‘we will also need to decarbonise heat, so it makes sense to store the surplus renewable energy, for example to heat water with it or to convert it into gas, to be used for heating. It is not yet clear what the most economic route will be’.”

And, finally, because of the restrained demand, overall investment in energy won’t have to increase, despite the transition.

“Major investments need to be made”, Gardner tells Energy Post, “but the amount of money the world spends on energy does not change much. The total number will be lower relative to GDP. That’s a pleasant surprise: we can afford the transition.”


Tune into the latest episode of Solar Insiders for an entertaining and informative discussion about the main news of the week and significant issues in the Australian solar industry.

  

Share this:

  • Alastair Leith

    Here at Sustainable Energy Now we’ve modelled the SWIS grid in WA extensively (it’s not on the NEM) and shown the SWIS can be at 85% RE by 2030 for the same cost or less (if prices continue to fall for solar and wind which anybody says they will) as continuing with coal and gas and replacing coal and gas plants with new as current plants retire.

    It’s a complete no brainer to go to 85% RE by 2030 (or earlier) which, coincidentally, would deliver 85% abatement of carbon emissions in the networked electricity sector on the SWIS grid (1,606,332 tonnes of CO2-e down from the current 11,220,494 tonnes CO2-e).

    • Roger Franklin

      Alastair, the issue that RE is facing is more with the Luddites in the existing energy generators and parliament than user adoption. Innovative technologies including deX (google that one!) are set to turn the energy generation and storage on its head as they focus on DER or Distributed energy resources – in particular dispatch-able energy stored in batteries etc. How cool would it be to have an energy training platform where individual house holds could enter the price, quantity and time of power that is available to an energy provider. That is disruptive. And we wonder why there is such a strong push to eliminate home battery storage!

      • stalga

        Best search is “deX energy.” Good to know ARENA is on to it.

        I’m convinced the govt’s game is to stall any way they can. Lies, hyperbole, obstruction (which has been used re wind farms and now home storage), and distraction and agitating for compromised legislation. Etc…etc..
        I never thought Turnbull would be so low a politician, almost as bad as Abbott.

        • Roger Franklin

          Stalga – I think Turnbull and the team are conducting a full FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) campaign. May have worked in the past…….. let’s see how it works out!

          • Alastair Leith

            Yeap, all they seem to be capable of is trying to wedge ALP on it’s coal links by prioritising their own. Turnbull really has the anti-midas touch when it comes to technology doesn’t he?

          • Joe

            …that wouldn’t be the same technology innovative and agile ‘Strong Leader’ that we have as PM ?

          • Greg Hudson

            Anti midas? Except when it comes to his own home, which is loaded with PV panels, and has just recently been upgraded with a battery (or so I read)…

          • Rod

            Did the Australian population just gain 20 IQ points?
            It will work again.

      • Alastair Leith

        How dare you talk about Synergy and the Barnett government like that Roger!

        Googled Dex: “Dex is a 2D, side-scrolling, open-world cyberpunk RPG with a focus on exploration and non-linear gameplay”.

        Er, something else?

        • Roger Franklin

          Alastair – try https://dex.energy/

          • Ron Horgan

            Dex looks great, it seems to rely on the power grid transmitting power from source to user as required. Very dynamic and
            ” living”sort of an organism. Control must be fast and subtle to stop breakdowns. I hope “Marvin” doesn’t get a headache.
            Based on local nodes?I’ve got a headache.

          • Alastair Leith

            PowerLedger is listed as a member org.

  • Alastair Leith

    “Which means the world will overshoot, and then find a way back to reduce the levels of global warming.”

    Ok then, any ideas how? Anybody?

    • Ron Horgan

      Think of a reverse coal mine. Grow plantation trees (or 20 other sorts of crops) to collect atmospheric CO2 and produce biomass, carbonize in ovens using evolved gasses as fuel source. Bury inert carbon in large open mine pits and cover with overburden.

      • Mark Roest

        I have a different use and technology, which releases less carbon, and uses excess wild trees to help save the forests from overcrowding –> stress under drought conditions –> vulnerability to insect pests (e.g. pine bark beetle) –> population-wide mortality in drought or scouring wildfires; see above.

        • Alastair Leith

          What makes you think forests that have evolved over millions of years need mananging from overcrowding, Mark?

          The temperate rainforests in SE Victoria sequester more carbon per year than any other single land use per hectare in Australia.

          There’s this misconception that chopping down forests is a way of sequestering carbon but the result is actually the opposite of that. Research by Dr Chris Taylor at MSSI Uni Melb has shown that even after 100 year the regrowth forest will not have recovered it’s carbon capture potential of an old growth forest. Young forests also use a lot more water while cycling less of it.

          Biochar is a valuable admixture for garden soils as you say, but the costs of using it broadacre for crops and pastures is prohibitive at this stage (which is most of our ag sector activity (more is the pity). And you didn’t lock up carbon that wasn’t already locked up in a 200+ year old tree! What’s more most pyrolytic processes can leak COx and methane which are GHGs in themselves. All the carbon in the tree that goes into a biofuel will then be released into the atmosphere as CO2 and so it’s adding GHGs not some magical neg-emissions.

          • Mark Roest

            Alastair, actually the forests were managed by the indigenous peoples, using low-level fires started in winter, in weather conditions that would control them, to keep space between trees. When European elites decided to seize indigenous lands, they taught the other whites that natives were inferior, to prevent support for first nations’ rights. There was also a multiracial slave rebellion, including white slaves, and the elite then decided to divide and conquer.
            Denigrating indigenous knowledge of land management practices in each ecosystem was ‘collateral damage’. The upshot was, eventually, 100 years of US Forest Service policy to suppress all fires. That resulted in a choked forest, with trees intensely competing with each other for what climate disruption turned into scarce resources. Under these conditions, management by fire is impossible, because the result is a major fire that scours organic matter well below the surface. These choked forests need to be mechanically thinned to the conditions that the indigenous land experts maintained with fire. Then either approach could work going forward, but harvesting and pyrolysis (combustion without oxygen) in a vapor-recovering refinery is the superior technique in today’s world of over 400 ppm carbon in the atmosphere and oil companies still in control.
            It sounds like you are used to forests that have not been mismanaged as badly as many forests in the USA have been, since the indigenous cultures were suppressed.

          • Alastair Leith

            I’ve spoken to a couple of indigenous people about this, in fact it got raised at the Perth launch of Bruce Pascoe’s wonderful book Dark Emu: Black Seeds Agriculture or Accident. And a friend who lived in arnhemland with T.O.s for a few years living pretty intact culture. I’m yet to be convinced mosaic burning was anything like on the scale that a) some enthusiastic white people (especially those contracted to do hot burns in WA’s forests) suggest it was done and b) we are currently doing in WA.

            My friend who lived in Arnhemland for a while said he was told the only reasons for burning there were to clear campsites of insects, because dead insects bring ants and to clear away campsite areas and paths to places frequented of snakes. Obviously that’s anecdotal, and mosaic burning to attract kangaroos for hunting was done also that’s well established in aboriginal lore and post colonial paintings and sketches. But some people suggest we need to burn 5-10% of the state a year (and they’re currently using hot burns not cool winter burns like indigenous people did) an I can’t accept that was traditional practice and even if it was the GHG emissions must be taken into account today.

          • Mark Roest

            It sounds like you have a significantly different set of factors than California, with a hundred million dead trees, and very different ecosystems.
            However, the other technologies have universal application.

          • Mark Roest

            Maybe whatever cause is sufficient for them to want to burn that much, could be could be harvested mechanically and fed into the All Power Labs refinery for pyrolysis.

          • JonathanMaddox
          • Alastair Leith

            I read a paper (translated using Google Translate or similar) years ago written in French from Canadian foresters who’d gone looking for a use and therefore a value for silviculture prunings. They came up with these pyrolysis processes that gave them enough fuel to power most of their equipment and meant they didn’t need to truck in huge amounts of diesel to remote forest locations in Canada, they could make fuel on site using 100% waste that likely would have had zero value going into the soil where it was taken down.

            Another really interesting thing in another paper from that country was that raking wood chips into the soils in “natural” clearings in forested areas saw a rapid shooting of the tree species in that forest in the years that followed. The nutrients we too low for the seeds to be viable, but once the soil OM was built up the seeds already in the soil just geminated.

            It’s often thought tree material is poor compost, but it this case it was perfect.

          • Alastair Leith
      • Alastair Leith

        Indeed, IPCC/ UNFCCC have pinned there hopes to the (fictitious technology of) BECCS. Did you know that the old growth temperate rainforests in SE Victoria sequester more C than any other land use in Australia. Logging and chipping them to burn in pyrolytic incinerators would result in a massive carbon sequestration loss as the forests regrew. They wouldn’t have recovered their sequestration potential even after 100 years.

      • Br

        You don’t have to cover it with overburden, you want to plow it into poor soils where it can double productivity. Biochar.

    • Roderick Williams

      One approach is to create biochar and use this to boost farming productivity, this is most effective in tropical countries. There is a very recent report (http://conta.cc/2tXcG1T) showing biochar combined with compost is 40+ times more productive compared to chemical fertilisers. Biochar can be produced using small scale CHP plants (http://www.allpowerlabs.com), which minimises the transportation required to process the crop waste into biochar.

      The benefits are fairly clear but the challenge will be achieving meaningful scale.

      • Alastair Leith

        Please see my previous comment on biochar. Useful in some contexts but it’s still burning trees which have carbon locked up already, some of that will be released as emissions from leaks and from the biofuel products. Increased plant growth rates need to be massive to offset the damage of chopping an old growth forest (highest sequesters p.a. of carbon in Australia) so it needs to be on farm plantation timbers on historically cleared land to make any sense too.

        Research has shown that many backyard/on-farm pyrolytic plants leak like sieves. I hope those All Power units are secure from leaks and pilot error, that would be a big step forward.

        • Roderick Williams

          All of the biochar organisations I’m aware of are using waste biomass as input for biochar, rather than established forests. The waste could be used as compost but in temperate countries the rate of bacterial decomposition is high so the embedded CO2 is released quickly, 1-2 seasons. By processing crop waste into biochar the CO2 is locked in the char for many seasons, in some cases 100s of years.

          I expect that if biochar attracted international payments for CO2 offsetting unscrupulous people would indiscriminately source biomass, possibly from established forests. Avoiding this would require effective monitoring of the supply chain.

          I share your concerns over any processes that release methane into the atmosphere as it will make GW worse. Hopefully packaged solutions or effective open source designs will reduce this likelihood.

        • Mark Roest

          I’ve been to All Power Labs, and their design is wonderful. It truly is a miniature refinery, with superb engineering. A couple of years ago, at somewhat lower prices than the last ones I’m aware of, and assuming waste or otherwise free feedstock, they calculated that the levelized cost of electricity (they also provide an engine to power a generator, all on the pallet) was just 2 cents a kWh! And it put out about 20 kW, and can be loaded into a pickup truck on its attached pallet.

    • Mark Roest

      A series of ideas, and why we don’t HAVE to overshoot, if people fund the right stuff before it wins in the marketplace (waiting loses time).
      1. Augment natural systems to pull CO2 out of atmosphere and sequester in gardens globally — enroll 3 to 7 billion people to make it part of their lives. How? Selectively thin overgrown forests, and harvest trees grown for this purpose (as well as food forests); remove the lumber; chip the rest of the solid wood and use All Power Labs’ pyrolysis refinery on a pallet (or in a container) to convert almost all into liquid fuel/biochemical feedstock to replace petrochemicals, and biochar; bury the biochar in gardens for 500 to 2,000 years; increases garden productivity and resilience (see YouTube, Biochar in the Amazon, 5-foot thick beds of biochar from 500 years ago and beyond).
      2. Ceramic semiconductor + saline-based electrolyte battery test cells have reached 700 Wh/kg, headed for 1040 within months; non-explosive, nontoxic, abundant commodity raw materials, selling price will be under $100/kWh by 2020; cycle life will go through the roof, over the learning curve, so levelized cost of storage will head toward less than half a cent/kWh. Will realize the full economic potential of whatever performance we can get from intermittent renewable sources of energy, and of battery electric vehicles, which will grow as fast as Tony Seba says, or faster, and make smart microgrids managing distributed solar generation a slam-dunk. BEVs here includes aircraft; NASA official said that 700 Wh/kg is threshold for full battery-electric commercial passenger aircraft — and it’s safe! Factory cap-x under a fifth of Gigafactory, per GWh annual production.
      3. Thin-film ceramic solar semiconductor (and others), using perovskites to reach 35 to 45% efficiency for US$0.25/Watt, on meter-square panels that can also serve as outer sheathing of buildings, transportation equipment and infrastructure (‘building-integrated-solar’). Factory cap-x a fraction of silicon wafer-based designs.
      4. Bosch Captive Column (www.CaptiveColumn.com) for solar canopy supports over parking and driveways, and on top of parking garages, means enough solar to power BOTH buildings and associated vehicles. Planning to start manufacturing for hurricane reconstruction, columns & beams for Futrex monobeam bidirectional monorail for close-headway, high-capacity, ultra-low-cost, attractive transit, including across flood zones. Then for elevated pedestrian and bicycle paths, bridges, etc. Also for wind turbine towers and blade spars, at a fraction of the weight and cost, yet stronger, driving wind energy costs down by 30% to 60% below current trend-line.
      5. Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) that sets to self-supporting within 25 minutes, and cures in 56-90 hours, at room temperature. Cf regular concrete, 5,000 psi compression; high-strength concrete, 6,000 psi; UHPC latest lab test (not in production yet) 196,000 psi. Ultra-fine grain does not support mold, mildew or bacteria; can last 2,000 years; can be textured and colored to mimic wood, brick, rock, etc., and molds to within 1/10 mm! But can be sprayed and 3D printed, and far lower carbon footprint to make it than for regular concrete (Portland cement, etc.). Lower grades of UHPC, eg 24,000 psi, can use 1/4 or 1/5 as much material for same job. It was discovered as an outgrowth of study of how the ancient Romans made UHPC using volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius explosion. Over last 25 years it has been used for the most demanding applications in the world. One is paving the entire Port of Rotterdam.
      6. BEV designs that will result in earlier ‘tornado of demand’, because of performance, cost, lifetime (a million miles?), squeezing out ICE like a pimple, where the other finger is mass conversion of existing fleet, in a highly designed system that minimizes cost, maximizes quality, lifetime, performance, range, design flexibility, owner pleasure.
      7. Funding for redesigning all other aspects of economy for sustainability and utility, as well as aesthetics and harmony with nature, coming from running the cash flows from integrated businesses 1-6 through public community development banks with, where possible, fractional reserve lending.
      With very modest funding now, and comparatively very low cap-x, all of these technologies could be in volume production in Australia and the US within 3 years, and globally within 4-10. They are either in-house or friends, so a lot of thought about how to integrate and scale them has already happened.

      Alastair, I ask you and your colleagues to please plug these values and scenarios into your models and run them again, to see how they play out against what needs to be done to save humanity and all our relations (or as many of them as we can still save). Once you have your results, please let me know, so I can use them to persuade investors to step up to the plate. Also, you may want to hook up with the Perryman Group, Waco, Texas, to see if they like your work and are willing to plug it into their econometric input-output analysis model and database, and re-run their pro-bono analysis of the New Apollo Program (designed by Kate Gordon, who also designed and implemented the Risky Business series of reports on climate change from a business risk analysis perspective). I would like to contribute perspectives and additional data to all of that work, and use it as the foundation of an environmental, economic and land use knowledgebase that can support a massively parallel sustainable economy design process in 867 terrestrial eco-regions (World Wildlife Fund website). That combination could in turn be integrated with the simulation system at the University of Technology Queensland; another friend was involved in developing it.
      It’s time to do a full court press!

      • Alastair Leith

        I’ll take some time to process this, Mark! As for 2. ceramic saline batteries I have heard of them but don’t know anything about them, any links?

        • Mark Roest

          Four-year-old data is in http://www.SeaWaveBattery.com.
          I can email an update to you if you get your email address to me, Mark (at) …

          • Alastair Leith

            mark {at} sea wave {dot} com?

            Good quote, but nothing on their site but a picture.
            “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
            R. Buckminster Fuller

          • Mark Roest

            Sorry. Yes, try that.

  • George Michaelson

    All projections beyond 2-3 years are highly speculative. They are interesting, and they are really encouraging, but I think we all know that the curve will move radically from where we think, depending on technology drivers.

    • Bristolboy

      Exactly – and it could move either way.

      DNV themselves (or rather senior employees presumably speaking with approval from their employer) expressed shock at the recent UK offshore wind auction giving prices lower than they expected. The natural extension of this would be for offshore wind to grow faster than DNV expectations which would directly impact the projections above.

      • technerdx6000

        In any case, I believe the projections are still too low. We always underestimate technology curves. The only thing that will stop the renewable revolution is crippling government policy

  • trackdaze

    As can be seen by the record amounts of small and large scale solar and wind being installed the goverment is causing epic blowback in trying to protect coal.

    Well done goverment you’re failures are a great success.

  • solarguy

    You can have peaking gas, but keep it Biogas. That will reduce Methane, which is 20 times more potent a GHG than CO2.

    It’s a no brainer!

    • Alastair Leith

      105x as potent as CO2 actually using 20 year GWP which is more appropriate to its near term warming impacts (IPCC AR5, Shindell et al, NASA).

      • solarguy

        Look, it beats the shit out of me I’ve always heard 20 x,. Can you give further info?

        • Alastair Leith

          There’s a bit in the Howarth et al Cornell Letter that exposed fossil gas, in particular unconventional extraction as being as bad in GHG terms as burning coal.

          https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-012-0401-0

          “We stress the importance of methane emissions on decadal time scales, and not focusing exclusively on the century scale. The need for controlling methane is simply too urgent, if society is to avoid tipping points in the planetary climate system (Hansen et al. 2007; UNEP/WMO 2011; Shindell et al. 2012). Our analysis shows shale gas to have a much larger GHG footprint than conventional natural gas, oil, or coal when used to generate heat and viewed over the time scale of 20 years (Howarth et al. 2011). This is true even using our low-end methane emission estimates, which are somewhat lower than the new EPA (2011a) values and comparable to those of Hultman et al. (2011). At this 20-year time scale, the emissions data from EPA (2011a, b) show methane makes up 44% of the entire GHG inventory for the U.S., and methane from natural gas systems make up 17% of the entire GHG inventory (39% of the methane component of the inventory).”

          Anthropogenic methane is responsible for one third of current global warming. Even if we ceased all CO2 emissions today ethane emissions would still take us into catastrophic global warming scenarios. Climate scientists have eschewed commentary and action on near term climate pollutants for fear that any policy actions or penalty mechanisms might come at the cost of action on CO2, and action on NTCP alone isn’t in any way enough. But the time is so tight we need to act on both together now, not do CO2 and then when CO2 is at zero move on to methane, CO, black carbon, nitrous oxide etc

        • Alastair Leith

          IPCC has upwardly revised methane potency as a GHG with each and every Assessment Report, the latest AR5 figures are: 28x using 100 yr GWP (almost all the methane will have converted to CO2 in the stratosphere after 12 years so that’s mainly a measure of its CO2 potential really) ],
          86x using 20 yr GWP (more appropriate to methane than 100 yr GWP)
          105x using 20 yr GWP and taking into account methane’s role as a precursor to tropospheric ozone (Shindell et al, NASA)

          People often are referring to figures from AR 3 and 4 and using the 100 yr accounting number, which as I’ve been saying has hidden dangers and is less appropriate to methane than 20 yr accounting.

          • solarguy

            Jesus Christ that’s an horrific night mare, isn’t it. Far worse than I believed, very concerning. Tell me if I’m wrong here, even if we use sewage, animal waste and green waste to capture methane and burn it to produce energy, methane from mining and natural emissions could do us in any way?

          • Alastair Leith

            Well, “natural emissions” were around a long time and Earth atmosphere was cooling ever so slightly until the pre-industrial period. most wetlands and swamps are now drained on this planet so that’s actually less environmental methane, but ruminant livestock numbers have exploded since pre-industrial times and they are the biggest source in Australia.

            In the USA it would be either livestock or fracking and coal mining as the largest industrial source of methane. A lot of US livestock are produced in lot feed systems where dietary controls make them a little less methane intensive (like 5%). If this seaweed thing CSIRO or whoever are trialing ever gets to 80% reduction it will need to be in their feed every single day to be that effective I expect, which is not commercially viable on rangelands where most Australian cattle are run with very little human contact. Whether it would ever be viable even in feedlots without a seriously realistic carbon price ($200+/Tonne) I’m not sure, be interesting to run the numbers if there were enough hours in the day.

            So yeah sewage and landfill is just a fraction of the methane story, all emissions sources are important but some a vastly larger than others. Recall the Aliso Canyon exploding underground gas storage reservoir in California which spewed fossil gas for months? Time magazine apparently compared the leakage of gas each day to emissions of 4.5 million cars (no doubt using 100 yr GWP not using 20 yr which would put it more like 13.8 millions cars on the roads).

          • solarguy

            Depressing, now here is a question you may not be able to answer: If we do use bio methane from as much waste as possible and cut down man made CO2 from FF to zero or close to, will the fugitive emissions of methane from all sources still accelerate global warming?

  • Blair Walsh

    Those graphs are saying Nuclear is non existent & will be non existent In India’s Electrical grid, China will basically peak in 3 years time for Nuclear power generation.

    Seriously…….

    • Peter

      Apart from cost, the problem with nuclear generators is the time to build new ones from scratch. New coal generators have the same problem with lead time.

    • Alastair Leith

      Seriously, how will nuclear get 50 years to pay off the ROI when solar energy will be near as free by 2040? Who knows where storage will be by then too. Nuclear all of a sudden becomes incredibly cumbersome, complex, high (financial) risk and social licence problem for any nation that receives daylight.

      • Blair Walsh

        China and India are developing their Nuclear Industry don’t be surprised when they announce more power stations in the pipeline but no doubt the Narrative from Reneweconomy about the decline of coal in those countries will be because of solar & wind, ignoring the fact that new nuclear builds are going to provide a baseline of clean power generation.

        My dispute are the graphs showing NO GROWTH for India & China generating Nuclear Power, Thats blindly ignoring what they’re doing with Nuclear, you aint going to cleanly power the needs of 3 Billion people without replacing at least some Coal Power plants with Nuclear.

        • Mark Roest

          What makes you think so?

        • Alastair Leith

          India is very behind their much vaunted nuclear schedule (impossibly so) and China is doing better but still behind. Every year that passes nuclear looks less in the money and less what’s actually required (dispatchable generation that is fast to ramp from 0 to 100% and back again) to balance for variable renewable generation that is flooding into the markets at an exponetial rate globally.

  • Radbug

    The Electrochemical Century beckons. No more Ellingham Diagram ie pyrometallurgy.

  • Tim Forcey

    HEAT PUMPS. DNV says:

    “For residential buildings, the energy used per m2 follows a downward slope for all regions, as appliances improve in energy eficiency, as insulation improves, and as appliances like heat pumps with high efficiency are installed.”

    And… “…if rational cost-based decision making predominated, there would be a much more rapid and extensive uptake of energy cost-saving technologies like heat pumps and thicker insulation in homes than has been the case historically.”

  • EdBCN

    The implications for the cost of PV by it’s learning curve must be pretty amazing. Does the report say what it thinks its cost will be? My theory is that both batteries and solar PV will get so cheap that people will just over-install both, but still end up just dumping a lot of excess electricity into the ground.

  • Carl Raymond S

    Which begs the question…If the world can produce that much energy from non-fossils, why burn fossils? Leave ’em in the ground and give humanity a future. It’s not like we’re asking anybody to give up chocolate – all energy tastes the same.

    • technerdx6000

      There is some ridiculous figure that if the entire earth was covered in solar panels, we would generate more power in 1 second than we use in a year (!)

  • Eric Wadge

    What is concerning is that despite renewables taking the lion’s share of energy generation it seems to be accompanied by an increase in world energy consumption so that the thermal generation is not necessarily being reduced by much and carbon emissions whilst not continuing to increase would remain pretty high.

    • Mike Dill

      In a number of places electricity is pushing out oil, so it is not as bad as you think.

  • Chris Drongers

    Storage – the missing link

    Tesla party at 100MW battery on 29 September at the Neoen Hornsdale windfarm.

  • Br

    This is lowballing nonsense. After 20 years of exponential growth, these anti solar groups keep using linear projections, every single year. Search IEA Greenpeace forecasts solar pv cleantechnica

    Your sources are both fossils fuels groups. The IEA was founded to protect oil reserves.

    Solar is has doubled every 2 years for the last 20 years. In 10-20 years solar will be producing more energy than we use now.

    • Alastair Leith

      And wind doubles deployed capacity ~every 3 years. At some point we’ll enter the steep linear, then the plateau part of the ‘S’ adoption curve (the penetration of renewables into the totality of energy consumption by humans) but we are nowhere near that yet.

      • Br

        Yes. I think offshore is going to go even faster because it has fewer siting problems and the wind is so much better with over 50% capacity factors and may places.

  • JonathanMaddox

    I’m fascinated, and almost pleased, to see that the share of oil-fired electricity generation capacity is actually set to grow. Of course it isn’t good news in the sense that oil is a fossil fuel and that burning it causes greenhouse pollution, but it shows clear-sighted understanding that demand for oil for the present major use, transportation, is likely to fall significantly with the adoption of electrified transport, turning oil (even as its gross annual production may be in decline!) into a convenient and inexpensive form of stored energy for use during unexpected or seasonal lulls in electricity generation from the dominant renewable sources.