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Solar and Wind Are Taking Over. Only That's Wrong!



By Bjørn Lomborg

February 5, 2018 - Solar and wind are taking over the world. We hear it all the time.

Only it is wrong.

Today, solar and wind make up just 0.8% of global energy. In a quarter century, in 2040 – assuming all nations live up to their Paris promises – solar and wind will produce less than 4% of global energy.

These stats come from the latest global energy overview from the most respected institution, the International Energy Agency (the OECD for energy) in its World Energy Outlook 2017 from November 2017. Unfortunately, the full report and much of the statistics is not free. Moreover, the split into individual renewables like wind, solar PV etc. is not made public (though the IEA model keeps track of them all).

The pie charts here use the data from the new estimates of power demand from 1990-2040 including the latest globally available data from 2016 (p648). It also shows the split into individual renewables obtained from a data request to IEA Power Generation Analysis, World Energy Outlook: Energy Demand Division, Directorate of Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks.


"The New Policies Scenario is the central scenario of this Outlook, and aims to provide a sense of where today’s policy ambitions seem likely to take the energy sector. It incorporates not just the policies and measures that governments around the world have already put in place, but also the likely effects of announced policies, as expressed in official targets or plans. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) made for the Paris Agreement provide important guidance as to these policy intentions in many countries, although in some cases these are now supplemented or superseded by more recent announcements – including the decision by the US administration to withdraw from the Agreement."

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to help the world. He is one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century according to Esquire magazine, and one of the 50 people who could save the planet according to the UK Guardian. Lomborg has repeatedly been named one of Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers.


Bjørn Lomborg