Following this week’s Twitter exchange between Matt Ridley and Mark Lynas I thought a helpful fact sheet about Wind Energy would be useful. People can print it out, send to their relatives, MPs, Senators etc etc.
Let’s look at that big zero in the context of world energy. According to this Bloomberg article (cited by Wikipedia) Wind power capacity now totals 238 gigawatts worldwide at end of 2011
China leads the world in installs in 2011, That figures, as they have all the rare earth metals needed.
Total world energy generation in 2011…can’t seem to find that yet. EIA/IEA reports don’t seem to be out yet for 2011. Last figure I can find from Wikipedia is:
132,000 TWh for 2008 with growth of 5% in 2010. so figure 140 Terawatt hours.
140 terawatt hours = 140 000 gigawatt hours
wind power in 2011 = 238 gigawatt hours (installed potential capacity, actual output is far less)
% of 238/140,000 = 0.16999999999999998 ~ .17 %
(Update, I misread the Wikipedia data, conflating Gigawatt hours with gigawatts, totally different. Thanks to HaroldW and others for pointing out my unit error. – Anthony
Harold W adds in comments:
The installed capacity of wind power is 238 GW.
Average efficiency is perhaps 20% (arguably a little higher or lower).
At that rate, energy produced annually is 417 TWh.
Fraction is still 0%, to the nearest whole number.)
417 TWh at 20% efficiency, calculates to 0.32% (417/132,000) This matches the Wikipedia chart below
Nearest whole number then is, zero.
Matt Ridley’s excellent essay, The beginning of the end of wind, in the first line says:
To the nearest whole number, the percentage of the world’s energy that comes from wind turbines today is: zero.
That links to this Wikipedia graph:
Again, the nearest whole number to 0.3% is zero. But that data is from 2006, rendered in 2008, the citation says:
An attempt at showing world energy usage types with a bar graph. (Meant to replace w:Image:Cascading Pie charts.png by User:Mierlo, which uses a pie chart with misleading numbers like 41% for solar heating, when it’s actually 41% of 9% of 14% = 0.5%.) Values are taken from the pie chart, which is originally from the data in REN21 2006 global status report on renewables and the BP 2006 Statistical review (most recent data available at http://www.bp.com/statisticalreview)
I suspect the growth in other energy sectors pushed wind back a bit since then. And remember, these numbers are for installed capacity, which assumes the wind blows and the turbine functions at 100%, which we’ve seen in practice never happens at 100%.