Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. I do make mistakes, but I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct. Remember: the unexpected sometimes happens. The expected does too, but all too often it takes longer than you thought it would.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Not fast enough

In 2016, 55.3% of new electricity generating capacity came from renewables, excluding large hydro, and 59% if you include large hydro.  That sounds really good.  The share of renewables in new generating capacity has gone from 20% in 2007 to 55% now, and that is definitely progress.


But the percentage of actual electricity generated rose by only 1% in 2016.  That's partly because renewables have lower capacity factors (25%-30%) than fossil fuels (60% to 70%).  And with global growth in electricity demand at around 3% per annum these days (though it will accelerate as EV sales take off), that 1/3 of incremental demand growth.


Since big hydro and renewables provide about 25% of electricity generated globally, at this glacial pace it will take 75 years before 100% of our electricity comes from renewable sources.  And that isn't fast enough.  We need to double the annual rise in the percentage generated from renewables to 2% per annum, which would mean we'd reach a 100% green grid by 2050.  And we need to stop building new coal power stations.  Europe has promised to stop doing this by 2020; India will build none for at least the next ten years, which in effect means never, because renewables will be even cheaper then; China has cancelled 104 planned and partly built coal power stations; the USA will never build another coal power stations again.  So there is hope.  Some.

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