Guest post by David Middleton
From the “you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows” files:
New IEA Report Delivers Failing Grades to Most Green Technologies
More innovation is needed in the global energy transformation.
by Eric Wesoff
June 13, 2017
Say you’re a member of the world community and a signee committed to the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. You’d probably want to track your progress and assess your results.
You’d essentially be asking, “How well is the human race doing in its quest to transform its energy mix away from polluting sources?”
The answer is not so well, according to a new report from the IEA, Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2017, which looked at 26 technologies and their performance in meeting the 2°C Scenario (2DS) in 2025. (The 2DS is defined as “an energy system pathway and a CO2 emissions trajectory consistent with at least a 50 percent chance of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2°C by 2100.”)
Only three of the 26 technologies are on track to meet that goal, while eight are significantly off-track and will need strong policy corrections to hit the 2DS.
Oddly enough, the three tech’s with passing grades are generally total failures:
- Solar and onshore wind, combined into one category as mature variable renewables, had strong annual capacity growth and record-low long-term contract prices
- The global stock of electric vehicles grew to 2 million, with 750,000 EVs sold in 2016
- Energy storage reached almost 1 gigawatt in 2016 (excluding pumped hydro)
They combine solar (a total failure) with onshore wind (a moderate success) in order to prevent solar from flunking out.
They call 750,000 worldwide EV sales in 2016 to be a success? Ford sold over 800,000 F-Series pickup trucks in 2016… just in the United States. These “futurists” really seem to believe that EV’s “could account for 25 percent of passenger cars by 2040, likely depressing oil prices” because EV sales have increased from zero-point-zero to slightly above zero-point-zero since 2011.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis keeps track of U.S. vehicle sales. If I plot the EV sales from the article along with total vehicle sales and extrapolate the data out to 2040, I don’t get anything close to 25%.
Even if I limited it to passenger cars, which account for about 30% of U.S. auto sales I only get to 5%. The only way this trend could lead to EV’s accounting “for 25 percent of passenger cars by 2040,” would be to assume that EV’s lasted longer than conventional passenger cars and the cumulative sales would eventually bring them up to 25% of passenger cars… AKA imaginary math.
So, “green” math yields a five-fold exaggeration in future EV auto sales… Very consistent with “green” estimates of global warming and climate sensitivity: About five times larger than reality.
1 GW of energy storage?
Unsurprisingly, the F’s go to:
- Coal because it still generates 40% of the world’s electricity.
- Coal with CCS because the “economics that do not pencil out.”
- Advanced biofuels due to their insignficance.
- The lack of “building energy-efficiency codes” in most countries… Many of which are still working on having buildings, plumbing and electricity.
Ranking “somewhere in the middle” are the only two tech’s which could provide a pathway to significantly lower carbon emissions:
- Nuclear because the world isn’t building enough new nuclear power plants.
- Natural gas because it lacks the “flexibility to better integrate renewables.”
Updated plot of total US auto sales and PEV sales:
Total Auto Sales:
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Total Vehicle Sales [TOTALSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TOTALSA, June 14, 2017.
The rate of growth of U.S. PEV sales has been very linear:
|US PEV Sales||US PEV %||δ PEV Sales||δ PEV %|
Wake me up when this changes.
It can’t get any more linear than this: