Another Look At The Fuel Mix

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

After my previous post on the subject of the fuel mix that powers the planet, I thought I’d take another look at energy use, this time by region and country. Let me start with the country that uses the most energy. No, it’s not the US … it’s China. Here is China’s energy use since 1965. All figures in all graphs are actual consumption of the fuel type, not nominal nameplate capacity.

Coal is the mainstay of China’s fuel mix. Despite all the hype about their push for renewables, they are only 3% of the total. They’ve increased nuclear, hydro, and gas.

Next in size is the US. Here’s our fuel mix, to the same scale. I’ve used that scale for all of the first group of graphs so we can compare the actual size of the energy usage.

US fuel use has been about level since around 2000. The decrease in coal has been matched by an increase in gas, aided by a rise in renewables.

We’ll get to the other countries in a moment, they use much less energy. In terms of size of energy usage, the next smaller unit is the region of Europe, again at the same scale:

Total European energy use is about the same size as that of the US. It uses less fossil fuels than the US, with the difference made up mostly by hydro and nuclear, along with a 9% contribution from renewables.

Next in size is the CIS, the old USSR which is now the Commonwealth of Independent States— Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

As you can see, the CIS countries run mostly on Russian natural gas … and as you can see, they are not that thrilled by renewables. None of the above. You can also see the economic effect of the fall of the Soviet Empire around 1990.

Next down in size is the Middle East. Care to guess what fuels the Middle East?

I knew you’d know … and I see that they are just as interested in renewables as is the CIS …

Next smaller is India. There has been a lot of talk lately about how India is investing in solar and solar is growing … here’s the reality.

Solar … six-tenths of one percent. India runs mostly on oil, coal, and gas, 92%.

Next in size is South and Central America.

In part because South America has no coal but is blessed with big rivers, hydro provides 22% of the energy. In addition, the sugar cane fields of Brazil provide biofuel, and they burn the bagasse (sugar cane with the sugar crushed out of it) to fuel the sugar mills. So fossil fuel usage is low, and renewables are 8%.

Next in size, we have Japan. At this point, we’re getting down the list to areas whose energy use is small enough that I’ll have to quintuple the scale on the graphs to show the details. So further graphs will be five times as large as if I used the same scale used in all the graphs above. Here is Japan on that expanded scale.

Japan is an interesting case, in that they basically shut down their nuclear power nationwide after the Fukushima tsunami disaster. They replaced the nuclear with fossil fuels. I understand that recently they are beginning to restart the nuclear program.

Next after Japan is … all of Africa! Yikes. An entire continent using less energy than one tiny island …

Africa has fossil fuels, hydro, and not much else … one percent renewables.

Next in line is Canada.

Canada has lots of hydro and some nuclear, so fossil fuels are only 65% of the mix. Renewables, 3%, Then we have Germany.

Germany is an interesting case, because it has been the poster child in the crazy war on fossil fuels. Note how they’ve been shuttering their nuclear plants. In doing so they’ve raised their renewable use to 14%. However, it’s gotten to the point where the German people are getting tired of the push for renewables, which has driven the energy prices through the roof. See e.g. Germany’s Green Transition Has Hit A Brick Wall. The pattern is clear—the more installed renewable energy capacity a country has, the higher the electricity price.

Germany has hit the saturation point and still only gets about one-seventh of its energy from renewables.

Now, before y’all Germans start saying that all of the personal, business, and economic costs of the transition towards renewables are worth it because of the big difference that your getting to 14% renewables has made to the planet, here’s the chart of German fuel use by type as above, but this time to the scale of the whole world’s fuel use:

See the colored lines down at the bottom? That’s the German portion of the world energy use, shown on the same scale as the world fuel mix in the background, and using the exact same data as in the detailed German chart above.

And when considering the world energy usage, you cannot even see the German renewable consumption …

Finally, returning to the detailed scale used above, here’s France, where people in yellow vests are in open revolt against carbon taxes.

As in many countries, even after pushing hard for renewables, in France the percentage is still small. Note the strong dependence on nuclear. Curiously, France is showing us the only practical way to replace fossil fuels … by splitting atoms. In 1975, almost all of France’s energy came from fossil fuels, and today it’s only 53% because of nuclear energy.

Here’s an oddity. France’s large amount of baseline nuclear energy is one reason that Germany is able to have high renewable usage. When the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing, Germany imports nuclear electricity from France. If it were not for that French nuclear power the Germans would be shivering in the dark …

And here is Spain, where the Government has decided to stop throwing good money after bad regarding renewables …

Once again, when the renewables were subsidized to the point of economic insanity, the people revolted and stopped the madness.

Well, that’s likely enough of a look at the energy usage of regions and countries. And what is my point in all of this?

My point is simple. We’re not going to be able to power the planet using any of our current mix of renewables. The claims by rabid green supporters that we can get to 100% renewables are just fever dreams. Current renewables are too expensive, too weak, and too intermittent to ever power the planet. And that is why the historical change in the total global consumption of renewable energy looks like this:

That graph shows the problem. After decades and decades of subsidies, grants, and government spending starting back during the time of Jimmy Carter, and after “cap and trade” systems, and renewables mandates, and carbon taxes, and public pressure, after “carbon-shaming” lectures by jet-setting Hollywood hypocrites, and fiery speeches by politicians promising Thermageddon if we don’t mend our evil ways, and endless IPCC reports, and indoctrination in the schools and universities … after all of that including billions and billions of dollars spent on propping up renewable energy, you can see that the consumption of renewables has barely made it up off of the floor …

So I’m here to spread the latest news about the loony “War On Carbon” that climate alarmists have been fighting for nearly half a century now …

Carbon won.

[UPDATE] In the comments, someone asked for the equivalent graphic for the UK. It’s below. There may be others, per request. Unless otherwise noted, I’ll put them at the same scale as Germany, France, and Spain above.

And here’s Norway. Because Norway is so small, I’ve put it at five times the scale of the UK graph above. Norway is the land of endless hydro.

Here’s Denmark, to the scale of Norway:

Curious … Denmark is using less fuel than it did in 1970.

And here is Australia, not to the scale of Denmark and Norway above, but to the scale of Germany, Spain, UK, and France:

Here’s Finland. It is very small, so I’ve used a larger scale than any of the graphs above.

Coal, oil, and gas use has declined, hydro is steady, nuclear and biomass (forest waste) are up

From the antipodes, here’s New Zealand …

Interesting. Big growth in hydro and gas. No nukes.

Here’s Netherlands, for Marcel.

Mostly gas and oil, a bit of coal …

A sunny day to everyone,


It Bears Repeating: To avoid misunderstandings, when you comment please quote the exact words that you are discussing.

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Bryan A
December 21, 2018 2:13 pm

You write the best articles…

But I have a question about this one
Your first graphic has
Renewables 3%
Fossil 86%

What is the other 11%?
Or is the Fossil percentage incorrect??

Reply to  Bryan A
December 21, 2018 2:20 pm

Nuclear, hydroelectric, etc.

Bryan A
Reply to  David Middleton
December 21, 2018 2:27 pm

So basically Non fossil, Non renewable…
Though Hydro is definitely renewable and the best renewable option out there

richard Patton
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 2:51 pm

Really??? How in the name of time does hydro produce methane and CO2? Free flowing rivers should do the same.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 3:12 pm

Which is perfectly fair because in all the discussion I’ve heard/read about pledges to go X% renewable by YYYY, large-scale hydro is never included. Apples to Apples.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 3:54 pm


I suggest adding solar heating / solar hot water to the graphs.
China has ~70% of the world’s installed solar hot water systems and produced 2x as much equivalent energy from those as it does from solar PV.
Germany, Turkey, Australia and the USA also each sizable installations but are only a few % of the global total

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 4:50 pm

Hydro is NOT renewable. In some cases, millions of square miles of formerly green, carbon dioxide-capturing land has been flooded. The impact on fish migration, silting and water temperature are other factors that are big negatives.

D. Cohen
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 5:49 pm

Once the dams, generators, etc. have been built, all that needs to happen is for the sun to shine and clouds to produce rain and you have hydropower. Sounds renewable to me. The drawbacks you mention in destruction of farmland — a one-time only cost — and excess production of CO2 and methane remind me of the drawbacks of windmills that kill birds wholesale whenever they are producing power. Nothing that involves machinery is 100% renewable, because machinery will always — as time goes on — need to be repaired using “non-renewable” and “non-sustainable” resources.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 7:45 pm

@ D Cohen “The drawbacks you mention in destruction of farmland — a one-time only cost” . Really? After the farmland is flooded they can come back and use it?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 9:49 pm

“Hydro is NOT renewable”

I agree with that statement but not for the reason that the poster made it. He is whining about the destruction of habitat….etc. However all hydro dams are ; are big lakes with a sluice gate to let the some of the water flow to run turbines. The damage of the habitat occurs once when it is being built, but after that no further damage to the environment. However a dam has a maximum capacity and is dependent on the water use upstream and precipitation levels. So in that sense it is not strictly a renewable. Nuclear on the other hand uses fuel that is so cheap and abundant that the only real costs are initial building and periodic maintenance and refurbishment costs. So it could be viewed as a renewable but since the distaste for nuclear waste is so high among the populace we tend to put it in its own category. The only true renewables are biomass, tidal power , wind and solar.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 9:53 pm

California grow crops on desert lands, which would not possible without having dams.

And southern california is utterly dependent on dams.
It appears Northern California wants to kill southern California.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 10:08 pm

I forgot geothermal and biofuel

Jaap Titulaer
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 12:32 am

Hydro is absolutely a renewable, whatever some Californian moron thinks. You cant just change the definition because youre from California. Whats next?
Flat earth theory?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 1:38 pm

Also that hydro requires dams, which alter the whole environmental universe, and stop fish from spawning etc.
There was even a movement to dismantle Hetch Hetchy Dam, until they realized that it supplied the city of San Francisco. Haven’t heard much from that movement lately..

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 8:54 pm

How do they classify Oroville which is a flood control dam, which generates hydroelectricity as a side effect?

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 23, 2018 6:42 am

gbaikie says:

“California grow(s) crops on desert lands, which would not (be) possible without having dams.”

So in reality, hydro dams may increase agriculture land area, not decrease it.

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
December 23, 2018 9:04 am

gbaikie says:

“California grow(s) crops on desert lands, which would not (be) possible without having dams.”

Farmer ChE Retired

So in reality, hydro dams may increase agriculture land area, not decrease it.

By many times the (“useless”, unproductive, scrub forest, rocky, woodland and brush and canyon floors and high-angle hillsides) acreage flooded, the (flat, usable, productive, areable) acreage the dam irrigates is multiplied …

AND, the downstream many hundred times (flatter, more productive, more usable) greater acreage is PROTECTED from irregular flood damage and destruction!

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 26, 2018 1:30 pm

richard Patton December 21, 2018 at 2:51 pm
Really??? How in the name of time does hydro produce methane and CO2? Free flowing rivers should do the same.

If the trees are not cleared before flooding they rot and give off methane, or so we are told.

Joe Public
December 21, 2018 2:20 pm

Would you add a similar chart for UK, please?

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 4:22 pm

Could you please do one for Australia Willis ?

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 7:55 pm

Thank you Willis.

Bill Treuren
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 12:37 pm

New Zealand?

Joe Public
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 1:21 am

Thank you!

December 21, 2018 2:22 pm

I remember the various Arab oil shocks. There was very good reason to look for alternative energy sources. Even then it was obvious that coal was in plentiful supply.

Until fracking came along, I was thinking about an electric car project. Once fracking became obvious, that project became moot.

Even with out fracking, there would still be coal but fracking sure changed things. Renewables are a total, complete waste of time.

Reply to  commieBob
December 21, 2018 8:58 pm

“Until fracking came along . . . ”

“Once fracking became obvious . . . ”

“Even with out fracking, there would still be coal but fracking sure changed things.”

“Renewables are a total, complete waste of time.”

Fracking “A,” Bob!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

another fred
December 21, 2018 2:23 pm

Thank you very much for the work you’ve done putting this together. Bookmarked!

John L.
December 21, 2018 2:24 pm

Willis – always read your articles first – thank you.

Last graph shows “Global total of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and biofuel.”

My basic question is – Is hydroelectric considered a renewable? It’s shown in most of the plots above. Yet I have heard – not confirmed – that for example California does not want to consider Hydroelectric a renewable as it would easily swamp solar/wind to achieve targets for renewable energy.

Your insight appreciated.

Don K
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 4:49 am

FWIW, California actually does count some hydro as renewable. The critereon seems to be that if the project is big enough to be useful, then it’s not renewable. Anyway, here’s the link to the 2017 list of “small” (renewable) hydro and “large” (evil) hydro.

It works out to about 12% “renewable”.

What do I expect you to do with this information? Unless you can see more logic than I can, I expect you to do what any reasonable person would do — ignore it.

Reply to  John L.
December 21, 2018 2:46 pm

The state of California does *not* consider hydroelectric renewable.
The combination of Loony Left politics with the Moonbat Ideology of the Greens produces some truly bizarre policy. The Greens maintain that building dams for hydro damages the environment(!) and therefor is as bad a fossil fuels. Further, the Greens maintain that the reservoirs behind the dams emit carbon dioxide and *gasp* methane. Therefor, they also are just as bad as fossil fuels, and for the same reason. The Loony Left politicians of CA, always quick to divorce themselves from reality, happily adopted the Moonbat ideology of the Greens in pursuing their Utopian vision.

Indeed, there is now an environmental/political movement afoot in CA and the Pacific Northwest to *destroy* the currently producing dams and associated hydroelectric systems. They call the movement the “dambusters”. Sheer madness.

richard Patton
Reply to  TonyL
December 21, 2018 2:57 pm

If the dambusters were to succeed here in the PacNW, it would destroy the economies of Eastern Wa/OR and Idaho. Without the dams, the farmers cannot export their crops. That could be what they want, destroy the farmers (who are by and large conservative) and then you have no one to oppose the Left’s loony ideas.

Reply to  TonyL
December 21, 2018 4:34 pm

Excellent post Willis ! India has lots of people that live in a hot climate. As their standard of living increases many of these people will use their earnings to buy air conditioners, which suck up lots of electricity.

Reply to  TonyL
December 22, 2018 10:41 am

And using money from the 2014 Water Bond to destroy some of those dams. People voting for that $7B bond thought they would get more dams, more water storage. California doesn’t work that way.
You need to understand the theology of CAGW in order to talk to them. But the talking will still be a waste of time IMHO.

richard Patton
Reply to  John L.
December 21, 2018 2:49 pm

It’s all politics. To exclude it from renewables is plain lying. They ignore that Mother Nature is constantly refilling the reservoirs.

Reply to  richard Patton
December 22, 2018 12:49 am

In Australia we were told that the dams would never fill again and this (drought) was the new normal.

All BS then and now they continue, in many case the same people, with a new range of BS.

We recently had a heat wave alert because temps were predicted to be 29-40C depending on location. In summer, in Australia, hardly worth mentioning. Most people would shrug and say “mmmm, bit hot, eh?”

Reply to  yarpos
December 22, 2018 2:21 am

People survived, nay thrived and conquered the planet, for all of time until the past century without so much as a fan, let alone AC or piped water to shower, swimming pools, etc.

Reply to  Menicholas
December 22, 2018 9:57 am

And such a drudge. Only took 1500 years to get up to Roman standards. The water supply engineering by the Romans is astounding. And imagine the world if the Romans had had electricity.

Smart Rock
Reply to  richard Patton
December 22, 2018 8:54 pm

Not that I necessarily agree with the whole argument, but – as I understand it – the designation of big hydro as not renewable is based on the fact that damming a big river stops it carrying suspended sediment to the sea. Hence the reservoirs will ultimately get filled with sediment and won’t function as reservoirs any more. The muddier the river, the faster it’s going to fill up reservoirs.

Small hydro tends to be “run-of-river”, i.e. dams (if present at all) are just to create a bigger head and don’t store water. Small hydro of course has seasonal variations in output that makes it somewhat less valuable than big hydro.

Reply to  Smart Rock
December 23, 2018 4:28 am

We can dredge the reservoirs and use all that sediment as topsoil someplace that needs it.

AGW is not Science
Reply to  John L.
December 22, 2018 8:30 am

“Biofuel” is the cause of enormous ecological destruction and should most definitely NOT be considered “renewable” energy. How much rain forest has been bulldozed to make way for palm oil plantations so somebody can have their useless but for its virtue-signalling BS “biofuel?!” How many FOOD SHORTAGES are created so we can waste time and energy creating corn-based ethanol to use as “biofuel” when there is perfectly goo OIL for that purpose?!

December 21, 2018 2:30 pm

Ukraine and Georgia are no longer members of the CIS.

GREG in Houston
December 21, 2018 2:43 pm
GREG in Houston
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 2:52 pm

Yes, something seems to be missing. Thanks for the reply.

Robert of Texas
Reply to  GREG in Houston
December 21, 2018 3:35 pm

As far as I can tell, subsidies have everything to do with India’s energy mix. Its hard to find any facts among the Greenpeace supported news blurbs, but I did find this one article:

The government subsidizes electricity costs for households at about 50% rate by subsidizing producers who then have to sell there energy cheap. Depending one what energy source they want to push, they subsidize some more than others. So, by cutting back on coal producer subsidies and increasing solar subsidies you get a situation where “green” power is cheaper. Since some of these regions currently have more power than they need (from coal), they can build more green power and still have available base load – thereby hiding that it is an intermittent energy source that actually is riding on the back of available coal plants for dependability.

So…it a political shell game…again.

David Hood
December 21, 2018 2:57 pm

Willis, I have saved this specific article for future use and reference – so thank you and well done.

This does show graphically the levels of achievement or lack there of over all the decades of investment and hardship.
Here in New Zealand, I am sure the graph would show we are the opposite, with mostly renewables – well, that was what I thought, for such a long time…..but hydro power not being in the mix is both silly and illogic (not yours, just that it isn’t classed as renewable)
Clean Green New Zealand is a logo, a statement and now the goal of the govt…how the hell is a small country like ours, ever likely to go green and renewable? Demolish the hydro dams?

December 21, 2018 3:00 pm

Mr Eschenbach, thank you for writing this up in such a clear, cogent fashion. I was struck by several things, namely that worldwide, energy use is dominated by fossil fuels, even with the rather precipitous adoption of solar, wind and biofuel “renewable” sources of the last 20 years. They hardly make a dent.

Moreover, I was struck by the India ↔ China graphs. Noting that the economic miracle that China has wrought, and that India so heartedly wishes to duplicate, then the big question would be, … will India, already on the rapidly rising CO₂ production curve in line with its economic growth, continue upon this, simply buying and burning international fossil fuels because they can, because they’re pretty cheap, and because the technological hurdles-for-adoption are likewise relatively easy?

Because if so, then there is going to be a heap of additional CO₂ production, just as China’s continues to both officially rise and unofficially rise (remarkably) into the present. The Western States, USA, Canada, Europe along with out Southeast Asian buddies, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and perhaps South Korea, continue to at least wave the flag of Going Green along with efficient fossil fuel standards.

I fear that when the teeming billions of Africa are added into the mix, the amount of CO₂ emitted per year will be profoundly advanced beyond what we’ve already come accustomed to, today.

Again, thanks for the fine article.


Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  GoatGuy
December 21, 2018 5:21 pm


Please don’t insult Africa. They have a teeming half a billion just like the whole of North America, which is also a continent. They also have a right to life, liberty and happiness. I would add freedom from the machinations of the ideologically possessed in the “home countries”. I hope to help accomplish that.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
December 21, 2018 6:18 pm

I was referring, Crispin, to the future billions which most-every demographic projection proposes. Not the present case. It is widely held that by 2100 CE, Africa’s population could well soar to over 2,000,000,000 people alone. Indeed… most demographic projections imply that the majority of world population growth by proportion, will be from Africa’s magnificent and various peoples.

Just saying,

December 21, 2018 3:02 pm

I’d like to see the graph for California by itself.
… maybe with a separate color for “imported” energy.

Brooks Hurd
Reply to  TDBraun
December 23, 2018 8:32 am

California has all the data available, but only back 18 years from what I found. The state is importing a substantial and increasing percentage of total energy usage. The last surviving nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, is set to close in 2025. Since today nuclear is 8% California’s energy usage, the imported energy will increase even more. Solar and wind are increasing in California. One could argue that they are backed up by imported power, much of which is produced by burning something.

Brooks Hurd
Reply to  TDBraun
December 23, 2018 9:32 am


Now that I have my California Electric Generation spreadsheet open, I can add numbers to what I answered before.

In 2017, California imported 29.3% (85,703 GWh) of the power the state consumed (292,039 GWh). This is down from 34.1% imported power in 2012. Total power generated in 2012 was 301,966 GWh.

Diablo Canyon was the only producing nuclear power plant in California in 2017. It produced 17,925 GWh of electricity in that year. This is 8.7% of the total power generated in California in 2017.

2017 power generated in California (206,336 GWh) is:
Coal: 0.15%
Large Hydro: 17.9%
Natural Gas: 43.4%
Nuclear: 8.7%
Oil: 0.02%
Other (Petro coke/waste heat): 0.2%

Renewables (61,183 GWh):
Biomass: 2.8%
Geothermal: 5.7%
Small Hydro: 3.1%
Solar: 11.8%
Wind: 6.2%

Imported Power 29.3% of the total used in the state (85,703 GWh):
Coal: 13.7%
Large Hydro: 7.1%
Natural Gas: 10.2%
Nuclear: 10%
Renewables: 27.4%
Inspecified: 31.5% (27,017 GWh)

The source of imported power in 2017 is listed as:
Northwest Imports: 13.7% of total used 39,873 GWh
Southwest Imports: 15.7% of total used 45,830 GWh


Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
December 21, 2018 3:10 pm


Really useful post. Several requests:

1) Could you include Norway (almost 100% hydro)?
2) Could you update your scatterplot on cost vs. installed renewable capacity to include all the countries you provide the fuel type breakdown on (for example China and Japan are missing, also India).

As far as I can tell, Norway is cleaning up by functioning as Europe’s storage battery for excess wind/solar power. I have not been able to find information on how much they make on the split between other countries selling them excess for cheap/free and what they charge to send it back when it’s dark and windless, but I suspect it’s a bundle.

At first glance at the scatterplot, I was tempted to pat the US on the back for being so far below the line. But on reflection I decided that it was probably because the US has a much higher per-capita consumption of energy than everywhere else, so the same per-capita installed renewable capacity represents a lower percentage of total per-capita consumption.

It’s also tempting to speculate why former Warsaw Pact countries seem more immune to the glitter of renewable energy promises. Maybe having been so recently poor they are more wary about going back there.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
December 22, 2018 7:03 am

Norway isn’t just cleaning up with real back up hydro, its also making loads of dosh selling ‘certificates’ to other countries who then say they are producing that certified green energy. The graphs of all the european countries have this double counting in their ‘renewable’ percentages, which represents up to 50% of the total in some.
Also Biomass in many countries is not ‘renewable’. There is nothing renewable about Drax burning amercan wood pellets in the UK. In general burning trees is an order of magnitude quicker than growing them.

December 21, 2018 3:15 pm

Another great post by Willis. Here, he shows the lack of utilization of renewables in grid systems worldwide. Unfortunately, the post is somewhat backward looking.
As we all know, the adoption of renewables has been limited by a lack of grid scale storage. This is a problem for which a solution is now in reach.

I was inspired by a new car offered by the Mercedes Benz company.
The Mercedes AA Class Luxury sedan. One of the worlds leading manufactures of luxury automobiles now offers a vehicle powered exclusively by AA batteries.
For those who may have missed it, here is a link to an advertisement:

Of course, for grid storage, we want to use rechargeable batteries, not the single-use batteries chosen for the Mercedes AA Class.
Consider now, the power system for your whole country backed up by AA batteries.
It is truly Fantastic!
AA batteries are universally available. They can be obtained at convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets, shopping malls, everywhere.
Furthermore, they are an infinitely scalable solution. To increase your grid storage, you simply add more batteries. Perfect!
The rechargeable AA battery, the way of the Future.

Julian Flood
Reply to  TonyL
December 21, 2018 4:39 pm

An interesting exercise is to calculate how many miles of AA batteries you would need to store a day’s worth of energy.


December 21, 2018 3:22 pm

Willis, can you show Denmark?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 3:43 pm

Like Germany and the UK. I think it shows that as the price goes up, people use less, with less waste and higher efficiency. Perhaps there is a lesson here?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 6:56 pm

No, business in Denmark is not handicapped at all. Denmark being a cold country, half of all energy consumed is for heating [and some cooling]. Here is how that is handled:
“In the heating sector the country has long used and continues to develop district heating (DH) networks. Hot water or steam is produced centrally and then distributed through a network of insulated pipes to high population areas. Houses within a district heating area have heat exchangers installed instead of boilers for their heating and hot water requirements. The heat exchanger keeps the two water systems separate and means that heat can be adjusted as with a familiar domestic boiler. One simple but important innovation in the district heating network was the development of internally insulated pipes. The two pipes taking and receiving the return of water are placed inside a much larger pipe and insulating material is set so as to fill the figure eight shaped void between the two smaller and the large pipe. In 2013 district heating supplied over 60% of all households in Denmark with heating and hot water.[4] The development of district heating technology has led Denmark to become a world leader in industrial pump and thermostat designs and its products are used in many industries worldwide.

Cogeneration is also widely used. This is a process that extracts the waste heat produced when generating electricity. Power stations designed to do this are known as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) stations. CHP stations in Denmark are often sized to provide the heat required for the local district heating system. Thus CHP stations produce both electricity for the grid and heat for district heating systems. Heat can be stored in large industrial hot water tanks for several days allowing electricity and heat supply to be provided time independently from each other. By 2013 the use of CHP stations had reduced the overall energy consumption in Denmark by 11%.
Efficiency is the name of the game.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 7:29 pm

But on the other hand, electricity prices are through the roof, which cannot help industry.
Other things are more importanr, e.g.
“One of the keys to Denmark’s pro-business climate is the flexible labor market known as “Flexisecurity,” where companies can easily hire and fire workers with out-of-work adults eligible for significant unemployment benefits. Unemployed workers are also eligible for training programs. It creates one of the most productive workforces in Europe. “The model encourages economic efficiency where employees end up in the job they are best suited for,” says Weis. “It allows employers to quickly change and reallocate resources in the workplace.”
Denmark is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. The government streamlines the startup process with only four procedures needed to start a new business and at minimal costs. The regulatory climate is also one of the most efficient.”

Over-regulation is the real business killer

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 7:33 pm
“Denmark has one of the strongest economies in Europe, characterised by a balanced state budget, stable currency, low interest rates and low inflation.”

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 21, 2018 10:01 pm

Denmark also has one of the highest tax rates to go with their high electricity rate.

Bent Andersen
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 7:57 am

About that country…

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 11:43 am

Certainly true to a fair degree in the UK, where the steel industry, for one, has been killed by electricity costs and CO² taxes.

Reply to  Keith
December 22, 2018 12:23 pm

But not true in Denmark

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 2:06 pm

but Denmark’s electric costs are almost four times that of the US. Hard to overcome.
Not at all. And it is not a question of supply and demand. The COST of electricity in Denmark is one of the lowest in the world. The PRICE of electricity is one of the highest. The difference is TAX, which forces consumers to concentrate on efficiency [which they do, successfully]. The high price does not impede the international competitiveness of Danish production, which is based on quality and not on low pricing. We compete on quality, not on price.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 2:38 pm

What is wrong with your analysis is that in Denmark there is a large difference between Residential Users (who pay 30 (Euro) cent per kWh, and Industrial Users (who pay 8 cent per kWh which is the same as the average rate for electricity in North America).

Bill Treuren
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 12:42 pm

Aluminium manufacture was common in a lot of countries, now mostly made in China with coal generation, so the pollution is exported as the Aluminium is still used where it was before.

A clear example of virtue signaling to claim a gain using this process.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 6:14 pm

The COST of electricity in Denmark is one of the lowest in the world.
Not true. As of 2011 the cost of producing one kWhr of electricity in Denmark was 8.8¢ US, which is more than the 2017 retail price of electricity in India and China,

Not THE lowest, but one of the lowest, e.g. compared with other European countries [which is the fairest comparison].

So no, high electricity prices are not some noble thing that forces people to become more efficient. In addition they make the Danish population poorer, and leave pensioners shivering in the winter.
Not a NOBLE thing, but an economic thing.

The Danish population is not poor and pensioners are not shivering in the winter. For one thing, heating is not electrical, [google district heating]. Another is that there is financial help if you have trouble with bills.

And as I said before:
“The high price does not impede the international competitiveness of Danish production, which is based on quality and not on low pricing. We compete on quality, not on price.”

A good link:
and there is this:

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 6:36 pm

“Denmark has built an enormous network of pipes under its towns and cities, collecting waste heat from factories, incinerators, transport systems, and combining it with heat generated from solar thermal energy plants, wind turbines, and conventional gas and coal power stations, to produce a low cost and highly efficient heat supply.”

“District heating is exactly as it sounds: colossal boilers provide heat for entire districts through a network of heating pipes. While in the UK households buy gas, which is piped into individual boilers to provide heating, Danish neighbourhoods do away with individual boilers and instead have their hot water piped directly into their houses from one larger, and much more efficient, shared boiler.”

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
December 22, 2018 7:56 pm

Leif Svalgaard

Denmark has built an enormous network of pipes under its towns and cities, collecting waste heat from factories, incinerators, transport systems, and combining it with heat generated from solar thermal energy plants, wind turbines, and conventional gas and coal power stations, to produce a low cost and highly efficient heat supply.”

Those “solutions” require the pipes and tunnels and waste heat collection devices be ALREADY in place BEFORE they become productive. Those system require the houses be jammed next to each other, on top of each other in tiny apartments clustered around central hallways above the pipes and collectors. Denmark towns are characterized by those tiny clustered villages and cities. The rest of the world? No, not so much.

Do NOT try to require the solutions that work in one area to a modest degree by central planning in towns the same place since 480 AD be applied around the world.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
December 22, 2018 8:07 pm

devices be ALREADY in place BEFORE they become productive.
No, the system is constructed over time and each new segment added is immediately productive.
It is, of course, true that DH will not work everywhere, but the successful application and accomplished energy efficiencies shows, on the other hand, that not all regions can be treated the same way.
Denmark is one of the Nordic countries and each of those has its own unique mix of energy policies and solutions and constraints.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
December 22, 2018 11:22 pm

True. And those solutions need to be independently economically justified based on local circumstances.

Not international forced decisions.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
December 22, 2018 8:16 pm

Denmark towns are characterized by those tiny clustered villages and cities.
No, DH , obviously, works best on a large scale: the bigger the town, the more efficient the system becomes. Nothing ‘tiny’ about this. The bigger, the better.
This link might be of interest: and
This figure
shows that Denmark has about the lowest ‘energy intensity’ which is the amount of energy required to produce a unit of GDP. An energy intensity of one means the energy equivalent to one thousand tonnes of oil that goes towards earning one million dollars in the economy.

Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
December 22, 2018 11:20 pm

Absolutely true: The larger the town, the more dense the population is, the easier it is to make central plant polution and heat energy be passed around the buildings closest to the plants, industries, and incinerators (??) generating potential waste heat.

Outside of the few northeast cities still with a few industrial factories downtown, there are no such cities and towns in the United States so tightly cramped together.

By “tiny villages clustered together” I was referring tot he common European habit (Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Slovakia, UK) where even the farming communities are tightly bound, and the fields are separated from the own, set in the 10-20 kilometers (1-1/2 to 2 hour’s walk) between the small towns. in the US and Canada, each farm has a widely separated single house. Perhaps 4 or 6 houses per square mile. Sometimes as few as 1 house per square mile of the old homesteads.

In the US and Canadian suburbs around the towns, houses are very widely separated from each other (though often as close as 30 meters between houses), and with no industry closer than 10’s of kilometers. Factory, industrial areas are very, very seldom co-located with ANY housing. Again, with the exception of the old rust belt cities – and those no longer have the industries running near their (former) squalid cramped housing clustered around the mills and factories.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
December 23, 2018 12:41 am

Outside of the few northeast cities still with a few industrial factories downtown, there are no such cities and towns in the United States so tightly cramped together.
New York and San Francisco seem to be tightly ‘crammed’ enough to benefit from DH…
In fact, most towns would qualify [even the one in which I live (Petaluma. pop. 56,000)], and more people live in such towns than in rural environments.

Steve S
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
December 21, 2018 5:01 pm

or, at 41C KW US, they have the highest electricty prices in the world……that will eventually hurt.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Leif Svalgaard
December 22, 2018 6:25 am

Leif: Central piped steam heat used to be common in northern US cities, at least in downtown areas. Many college/university campuses still have steam heat networks. I guess with suburban sprawl it is no longer worth maintaining the supply and return pipes; distributing electricity and natural gas is easier and more efficient.

But you’re right: finding a cost-effective way to use heat which is now thrown away benefits everyone.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
December 23, 2018 2:00 am

Center city in Philadelphia, where I grew up, has a cogeneration plant that makes electricity and sends steam to the downtown area of the city.
The pipes ran right under the sidewalk in front of the family home on 22nd street.
Still there.
If I was living there I would have long since looked into getting them to hook a steam pipe into our house.
For heating a room up fast, steam in a radiator is amazing.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
December 23, 2018 7:06 pm

“Many college/university campuses still have steam heat networks.”

If they have a hot water heating system and they have a big computer center, they might use the heat from those computers to heat buildings.

All of the energy that runs computers gets converted to heat. First you pay for the electricity, then you pay to get rid of the heat it creates.

Joe Ebeni
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 12:45 pm

Let’s put this in perspective. Denmark has less population than the following metro areas in US.

1 New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA 20,320,876 19,567,410 +3.85% New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA CSA
2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA 13,353,907 12,828,837 +4.09% Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA CSA
3 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA 9,533,040 9,461,105 +0.76% Chicago-Naperville, IL-IN-WI CSA
4 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA 7,399,662 6,426,214 +15.15% Dallas-Fort Worth, TX-OK CSA
5 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA 6,892,427 5,920,416 +16.42% Houston-The Woodlands, TX CSA
6 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA 6,216,589 5,636,232 +10.30% Washington-Baltimore-Arlington, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA CSA
7 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA 6,158,824 5,564,635 +10.68% Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Port St. Lucie, FL CSA
8 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA 6,096,120 5,965,343 +2.19% Philadelphia-Reading-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD CSA
9 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA MSA

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 23, 2018 1:24 am

Thanks Willis, can you show The Netherlands too?
They just reached an ‘climate agreement’ with 100 stakeholders last Friday.
They aim for 49% CO2 reduction in 2030 and want to increase renewable electricity to 75-80% in 2030… Madness all around us these days.
Marcel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

kent beuchert
December 21, 2018 3:29 pm

The future is not fossil fuels, and that is because the economics of the new generation of molten salt nuclear reactors trumps all forms of energy production in all respects – safety, emissions and, mostly, economics.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  kent beuchert
December 21, 2018 5:21 pm

Kent b,
You may be correct. However, a few of these have to be proposed, financed, built, and operated.
If all goes well then more will be proposed, financed, built, and operated.
With all the hype and money over the last 30 years spent on wind and solar, the effort has not kept up with the new demand (I don’t think), that does, in fact seem to be accelerating.
Thus, for molten salt nuclear reactors to be “the future” they need to be built by the 100s and 1000s.
That means starting now, because otherwise “the future” will have come and gone.
Someone wrote: “Hope is not a plan.” Is there a plan for MSNRs? A plan equals: proposed, financed, and accepted by the 1000s.

Reply to  kent beuchert
December 22, 2018 12:56 am

the best technical solution, the most common sense approach, the glaringly obvious answer all often do not get implemented. Sadly the world is not that simple.

Spalding Craft
December 21, 2018 3:35 pm

Great article, Willis. Graphs worth a thousand words.

Roger Knights
Reply to  Spalding Craft
December 21, 2018 7:22 pm


December 21, 2018 3:40 pm

Only by us attempting to get the message out there that the Greens-warmers are not really into “Saving the Planet”, but to first destroy the economy, so that they can then offer you the solution, their form of government , which is of course Communism.

I am surprised that in particular ther USA’s strong opposition to Communism during the “Cold War ” days , are today unaware that the policies of todays Democrate Prty are the way to world government, ie Communism.


December 21, 2018 3:45 pm

I should have included that it is a very good article, and clearly shows the lies of the Greens that Renewables are not only cheaper than coal, but are also able to power a modern world economy. Thanks.


December 21, 2018 4:00 pm

“Let me start with the country that uses the most energy. No, it’s not the US … it’s China”

Post graphs of energy or fossil fuel use per capita and the picture changes considerably.
Then match up China’s ramp up of coal with a graph of their exports to Western countries vs their balance of trade with those countries.
Over the past several decades, it’s not just jobs that have been outsourced.
We’ve done it with emissions too.

Reply to  MorinMoss
December 22, 2018 12:45 pm

Willis is an American, and like all Americans educated before the ’80s knows and assumes everyone knows that China has the largest population. That wasn’t the point. Everyone assumes that the US uses the most energy – period. He corrected that assumption.
As a ‘developing’ country, it would be very unlikely that China 1)uses more power per capita than the US, or 2) has a higher standard of living. He shouldn’t have to produce charts that show that. Then again, we have lots of people on this site that may have been educated after the ’70s. It is still not his responsibility to educate them all.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
December 21, 2018 4:14 pm

In 2011 electricity generation in India [end of August 2011] and US

Type               percent
                   India      USA

RES                11%           3.8%
Nuclear             2%          21.5%
Hydro              21%           6.0%
Diesel              1%           ---
Gas                10%          19.8%
Coal               55%          48.9%

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

[RES is renewable, or reservoirs (hydro ) .mod]

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
December 21, 2018 8:15 pm

Res = renewable [solar, wind, etc]
hydro = hydropower [water]

Thanks, Sir

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
December 22, 2018 12:14 am

Res = renewable [solar, wind, etc]

(SHP – Small Hydro Power, B.P. – Biomass Power, B.G. – Biomass Gasifier, U&I – Urban & Indutrial Waste)

David Long
December 21, 2018 4:19 pm

This is the first I’ve heard of the methane from reservoirs nonsense, but having originated from the Pacific Northwest I can assure you that for many years the issue of dams has centered around salmon. Most reasonable people would like to see more accommodation made for salmon runs rather than destruction of the dams. And indeed as fish ladders, water quality, etc. have improved over the last several decades most salmon runs have been improving. I’ve heard that in the early days of the 19th century salmon were so plentiful they were considered ‘poor man’s food.’ Those days are not coming back.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  David Long
December 21, 2018 7:27 pm

To get salmon out of the lake, swimming backwards down a helical tube:

the downstream fish passage facility at Cle Elum will consist of a multi-level inlet ramp with gated openings that will operate at various reservoir levels and feed into a helical structure designed to maximize fish survival as they travel to the downstream side of the dam.

December 21, 2018 4:30 pm

Yes MM says it well, we allow the likes of China to get away with no check on their emissions of CO2, but we turn a blind eye to the fact that these goods which we in the West buy, they should be added d to our emissions of CO2. T hen we would see the true picture. Of course the more CO2 the better, but lets be honest about it.


Al miller
December 21, 2018 5:21 pm

Hydro is NOT renewable. In some cases, millions of square miles of formerly green, carbon dioxide-capturing land has been flooded.

Now let’s apply this logic to large scale solar- weird its the same, huge tracts of land covered with panels, no plant life to speak of.
Windmills, no better, no trees need be nearby, nor flying creatures of any kind. Now add the massive quantities of concrete rebar, steel, exotic metals, etc. and not much difference between that and a dam. Add in the required coal or gas back up plant and how on earth are these called renewables?

Reply to  Al miller
December 21, 2018 5:54 pm

Apparently animals live in and under the panels and graze on them 🙂

No really I am with you I don’t get the difference.

Hank Bradley
Reply to  LdB
December 22, 2018 5:35 pm

Apparently animals live in and under the panels and graze on them
Where the sun is intercepted by the panels, it can’t hit the ground to grow stuff to graze on. You sure the critters aren’t just using panels for shade trees?

Larry Hamlin
December 21, 2018 5:25 pm

Great post Willis!!! Thanks.

Geoff Sherrington
December 21, 2018 5:45 pm

That is the Australian lesson.
Electricity prices still trending strongly upwards in line with increased Government rule-making and distortion of the free market.
Be careful with electricity prices, though. Australian studies now cited with approval incorporate the largely unspoken effects of having a preference for renewables built into them. That is, if the Paris agreement and the Renewable Energy Target disappeared overnight, the true electricity costs would be revealed, they would be much lower and they would be useful for international comparison studies.
By the time that happens, a lot of heavy industry will have left Australia and it will be unlikely to return without a cleansing of the minds of the voters who have been fed renewables propaganda for so long that many now believe it. Geoff.

Geoff Sherrington
December 21, 2018 5:48 pm

The rate of growth year on year in some countries also deserves a mention.
Some countries like mine (Australia) say that it is not feasible to commence certain policies like approval of nuclear because it would not be possible to make significant progress because it takes too long.
Just look at China’s rate of growth of nuclear to dispel that argument! Ditto for Chinese hydro.

Bill In Oz
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
December 21, 2018 8:15 pm

Yes Australia is in a mess with electricity. All of the major political parties want more renewable energy and bugger the extra costs imposed on business and folks on lower incomes…

And partly this is a consequence that the discussion debate has been dominated by Greenist activists..

There is a real need for ordinary folks to be part of the debate, pointing out strongly that elected Pollies buggerising around with power will get a big kick in the bum..That is what happened in SA last March at the state elections. It will be a key issue in May in the national elections if the public is awakened to what has happened here in the name of ‘saving’ the planet.

Reply to  Bill In Oz
December 22, 2018 1:08 am

Come on Bill, we all know that “renewables put downward pressure on prices” Our politicians tell us so, it must be true

December 21, 2018 5:51 pm

I write letters to the editor for the local newspaper and draw extensively on your articles.
This particular article is loaded with facts which is of great help.
Thanks and Merry Christmas,

December 21, 2018 5:55 pm

I write letters to the editor for local papers.
Your articles are of great help. This one in particular is loaded with facts.
Thanks and Merry Christmas,

Reply to  pmhinsc
December 21, 2018 7:02 pm

I am doing same here in Finland. This article saves so much my time.

Easy to understand why MSM is hiding that kind of graphs.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 12:14 am

Thank You very much!

Alex Cruickshank
December 21, 2018 6:25 pm

Willis, another excellent post. Any chance that you could do Australia. We are, yet again, debating carbon pricing/enhanced renewable subsidies, although a recent blackout in South Australia (late 2016) has the politicians tip-toeing around the issue.

Tom Graney
December 21, 2018 7:49 pm

An entire post dedicated to inconvenient truths and inconvenient reality.

John Reistroffer
December 21, 2018 8:24 pm

Hi Willis,
Excellent synopsis.

Taking into account the low percent of unconventionals that exist today and the pie-in-the-sky renewable electricity numbers that are being bandied around to save the world in the not to distant future, I had some observations about the efficiencies and metrics of how renewable and conventional power generation systems are compared.

Something that I have not seen addressed anywhere in any detail, is the issue of how much installed capacity of Solar and wind is required to meet base load and peak load demand for solar and wind generated renewable power. If this percentage is used in your above graphs, the renewable numbers would be even smaller!

I assume that the figures you show above represent installed capacity.

Given the irregularity of solar and wind generation, the question I have is, how much additional installed capacity of solar and wind is required to meet baseload demand and then how much to meet peakload demand? This number has a huge bearing on the CAPEX and OPEX for the renewable world.

Therefore, If baseload demand is 500 MW and peakload is 750 MW how much extra capacity has to be installed to meet both of these load requirements?

I understand that efficiencies for wind is around 20-40% therefore in a case where you wanted to meet baseload/peakload demand for wind baseload you would have to install between 1250 to 2500 MW and to meet your peakload and you would need 1875-3000 MW. In addition, your capacity would be affected by availability of sun and wind, therefore it wouldn’t matter how much installed capacity you had available, when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, you would not be able to meet electricity demand and you would have a blackout, remember New York?

I live in Texas, and I remember the bumper sticker which stated “Let the bastards freeze in the dark”during the oil crisis of 1979 when people in the NE were pissing and moaning about the cost of fuel,.

I have read numerous reports comparing wind and solar to the various conventional power generating systems, and in every case the conclusion is that solar and wind are closing the cost gap ($/MW) with gas, coal and oil plants. But solar and wind are subject to large inefficiencies, it doesn’t matter how much capacity is installed in the case of no wind or sun… electricity.
Therefore, you can’t compare renewable wind and solar to conventional gas and coal, MW to MW installed capacity, due the great difference in efficiencies of the electric generating capacity.

The existing metrics are not entirely honest in this sense, when comparing wind and solar that operate at 20-40% efficiency, to Conventional systems which operate at ~80% efficiency and can be turned up or down given the demand.

I understand that many countries, Germany especially, have installed coal generating plants as backup to meet the above shortfalls and inefficiencies of renewables. Therefore, the metrics for these renewable systems should reflect not only the additional capital and operating costs of wind and solar inefficiency where 60-80% additional capacity needs be installed to meet baseload and peak demand, but they should also reflect the additional cost of emergency installed backup capacity in a no to low wind/sunshine scenarios.

I have no idea how a modern society would be able to function (with current non-storable technology) with >80% unconventional capacity which is being toughted by beaurocrats. The expectation I would envision is for regular massive blackouts and brownouts.

I am also perplexed at how renewable and conventional systems are currently compared to one another, MW to MW installed capacity, given the gross difference in installed generating efficiencies.

Gracias… Ya que me desahaogue, me siento mejor,


John Reistroffer

Reply to  John Reistroffer
December 21, 2018 11:47 pm

Willis, John R above makes a point similar to one that bothered me reading the (excellent) posting.

You have not taken faceplate, but actual power generated, in the case of the renewables. But this is also probably an overstatement of renewable contribution, because of two cases. Much of it will have been generated when it could not be used because it was during a period of low demand.

Much will also have been useless generation because although it occurred during the main usage period, strong winds for instance added more power than was needed to a grid that was already supplying demand.

What you read in the Guardian and similar sources is that in a given period, wind supplied X% of electricity use. But you have to decode that a bit. What happened is that the wind turbines generated that much. But this does not mean that when you take the total generation over a year, then express this as a percent of total electricity used, that in any useful sense wind generated that percentage of usage.

Don’t know if I am being clear. In a grid in which there is 100% backup and a lot of spinning reserve, and where priority is given in financial terms to wind and solar, its not clear how you get a figure for what percentage of use was generated by them. I recall in a previous life having to pay union members to watch while our own crews installed equipment. Isn’t it a bit like that? You could not say in that situation that union labor installed X percent of equipment of this sort in that city.

I haven’t a clue how you would get a proper estimate of this effect, but do you agree its a factor?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 3:09 am


I guess, if it was a free market then the numbers would be a lot lower. Maybe zero. The supply companies wouldn’t pay the subsidized rates to wind generators for intermittent and unreliable supply, the wind companies would either go bust or not get started, and supply would fall. In fact, in a free market, the supply companies might well just refuse to buy intermittent and unreliable wind supply at any price.

But what your piece shows is that you don’t even need this argument to show the futility of the thing. It leaps out at you from the numbers how ineffectual its being in addressing what the activists claim are their concerns.

Reply to  John Reistroffer
December 22, 2018 1:13 am

More important than the 20-40% efficiency of that wind is that for significant period it can be 0% , so no matter how much you add it can never be the answer (at least with the current state of widely deployable grid scale storage).

December 21, 2018 8:27 pm

Are the figures for solar and wind nameplate?

Roger Knights
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 22, 2018 3:34 pm

Willis: Maybe you should add a sentence to the head post stating that the figures are for power generated, not for nameplate capacity (since people will wonder, and won’t scroll down to here to learn).

December 21, 2018 10:12 pm

Re. Bill in Oz regarding the South Australian election. We in SA have had a “Gerrymanda”favouring Labour for about 16 years. The makeup in this State is roughly 50 – 50% Labour to Liberal. ( Conserative)

All that happened in the last election was that the Electorial Commssion finally did the right thing and corrected the figure s.

The actual vote for the Liberals was almost identical to the previous election, it was the correction in the system which put the Liberals in.

Sadly I think we should have stayed with Labour, because at last they had realised what a mess Green renewables were, and proposed to build a State owned power station, against strong opposition from Federal Labour.

The now Liberal Government are to date not very good, talking about building a connector to NSW, which would take many years, and I don’t think that the NSW government who own their power stations, would want our variable Green energy. Federally in the dying days of the Liberal government they seem unable to “Bite the bullet and say that the whole Green thing is as ex PM Abbott said, Ä load of Crap”.. After all they might lose a vote or two.


December 21, 2018 10:39 pm

An above post by Spalding noted that a a graph is “worth a thousand words”.
Which reminds of the measure for feminine beauty.

Helen of Troy was considered so beautiful, that her’s was the “Face that launched a thousand ships”.
From which we get the “millihelen”.
A face with beauty sufficient to launch only one ship.

Ben Vorlich
December 22, 2018 12:35 am

Just a point on France both Macron and his predecessor Hollande wsnt to replace nuvlear with renewables. Part of the carbon tax was to fund invest in solar and wind. Europe is heading for trouble when the change happens

December 22, 2018 12:42 am

Would it be possible to do a graph of California alone and maybe Texas also? The world has only 12 years to correct its ways until the doom of carbon comes to pass or so I am warned by my woke friends. Maybe graphs such as these can show the turn of the tide or maybe not. One thing they do not represent is a steady state; that is for sure. Thanks for this post.

Tasfay Martinov
December 22, 2018 1:50 am

The economic-energy downturn at the 2007 sub-prime financial crash is profound and has not been reversed.
In “The West” at least.
Political interference with energy supply has prevented recovery from 2007.
I like the film “The Big Short” showing how entrenched corruption can be in the global infrastructure.
Something similar may happen to the climate enterprise.

Brooks Hurd
Reply to  Tasfay Martinov
December 23, 2018 8:35 am

I would say that something similar should happen to climate enterprise.

December 22, 2018 2:52 am

I have a question. The graphs are presented as “fuel use”. I wonder if it should be fuel production. An example: Denmark is shown with 0% hydro power. But they are importing power from Norway. I don`t know how much.

Reply to  nobodysknowledge
December 22, 2018 3:15 am

Well, I see that this import is so small that it doesn`t count.

Reply to  nobodysknowledge
December 22, 2018 11:10 am

Not so little. 1345 MW(mostly from Germany = Coal) as I write this. You can follow it minute by minute here:

Reply to  nobodysknowledge
December 22, 2018 11:06 am

They import a lot of hydro and nuclear from Sweden too. Hydro i sparticularly valuable for balancing unreliable wind. Once our politicians here in Sweden has closed down nuclear both we and the danes will be in big, big trouble.

December 22, 2018 3:00 am

Great article, lots of hard data with commentary. There should be more of these in WUWT.

Brian RL Catt CEng, CPHys
December 22, 2018 4:11 am

This information is also publicly available from IEA Statistics and the BP source quoted here. But its nice to have the key bits pulled out. In the UK BP planning people present this to public meetings of professional institutions and elsewhere.

The rest of the world is not like California. The problem with hydro is when large flat arable land is flooded to create the massive lakes, especially in hot countries. Loss of productive land has a continuing cost and creates the emissions as it is inundated and as it rises and falls, which probably don’t have any measureable effect on the climate which has plenty of natural feedback to manage that. But its a rubbish use of land when you can build a nuclear power station for a lot less, with similarly low operating costs, and use the productive land for agriculture or habitation.

Obviously a granite glacier carved fiord in a bleak and agriculturally unproductive landscape is a great idea, as Norway has. Not many countries have plentiful Hydro. France gets 20% or so of it’s electricity this way. It has Alps with deep rocky valleys fed from inhospitable landscape which is unspoilt by its water collecting function.

PS Idea for Californians. Yosemite would make a great hydro resource to rival the Hoover Dam with renewable energy. Not sure about King’s Canyon topology. The Sierra Club should get behind such a fantastic renewable energy resource. Nobody lives there, it has impervious rock and looks like the lake could be 1,000 feet deep, only a few trees to drown, the bears and Coyotes would move, lots of places to move to. Tahoe would be good for pumped storage, just pump seawater up from SF Bay to refill it. Only rich elites benefit from these places. The mass of poor who need cheap energy can’t afford to go there. And the ice will refill it and remove the dam naturally in a few thousand years anyway, as it does every 100Ka.

December 22, 2018 4:41 am

China’s 2000s boom is stunning. They doubled their fuel (energy) use in about 5 years (from 1000 to 2000 Mtoe)!

December 22, 2018 6:59 am

Willis, it is interesting how the recession starting in 2008 is reflected in these graphs. There are probably several tentative conclusions to be drawn from that.

December 22, 2018 7:45 am

Hi Willis, thanks for this very nice article.
I wonder about one thing though. Your diagrams show France using about 250 Mtoe and United Kingdom about 200 Mtoe.
On the other hand, usually shows the french demand to be about 1.5 to 2 times higher than the british demand.
Do you have an idea why?
Regards, L

Reply to  lbeyeler
December 22, 2018 7:46 am

ups, meant 1.5 to 2 times AS high

Reply to  lbeyeler
December 22, 2018 7:47 am

ups, meant 1.5 to 2 times as high…

December 22, 2018 7:54 am

Fine graphs, thank you.
I found myself wishing to also see GDP and total carbon emissions, if you could figure out a graceful way to add them.

December 22, 2018 8:57 am

Japan is interesting. I wonder if their economy shrunk that much, or become more efficient. I seriously doubt it could have become that more efficient….

December 22, 2018 11:02 am


“Coal, oil, and gas use has declined, hydro is steady, nuclear and geothermal are up”

No geothermal in Finland. Biofuel (forestry waste) is up.

December 22, 2018 11:13 am

Note that UK coal usage has plummeted. That’s because we are now chopping down every forest in America, to fuel Drax the Destroyer with wood-pellets. And diceing, drying, compressing, shipping and trucking all that wood across the pond, at vast energy expense.

(Drax is a 4 GW generating station, so it is very hungry…..)


Reply to  ralfellis
December 22, 2018 7:43 pm

‘That’s because we are now chopping down every forest in America, to fuel Drax the Destroyer with wood-pellets.”

How do people get away with saying such nonsense without a /sarc tag? I read BS statements like that and then I realize that many skeptics are totally brainwashed and out to lunch too. Why not say the wood pellets are made with Birds Eye Maple, Walnut and Oak furniture too? Just incredible the ignorance that is displayed here sometimes about wood pellets.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
December 23, 2018 9:20 am

So I am brainwashed for not catching the sarcasm of “every forest in North America is being chopped down to feed Drax” except that the commenter went on to say “And diceing, drying, compressing, shipping and trucking all that wood across the pond, at vast energy expense.” Sure sounded to me like he was dead serious about meaning what he said. But yet you want to put words in his mouth, that obviously he didn’t really mean every forest in USA was being chopped down to feed Drax. Talk about selective hearing when it suits you, while you tell others at the end of your posts to quote the exact words. “It Bears Repeating: To avoid misunderstandings, when you comment please quote the exact words that you are discussing.” I do so, and you make something up and then ascribe it to the other guy who made the comment. I didn’t even address my comment to you just decided to reply to my comment. Which is fair, but then you break your own advice about sticking to exact words. Geez…

“Drax remains the UK’s single largest emitter of CO2, and is now also the world’s largest biomass power station”.

First off, when did CO2 all of a sudden become a big deal around here? We all know here that the sensitivity of the climate to CO2 is not what the alarmists think it is. This is the central Raison d’être for WUWT existence all these years, that CO2 is not the boogeymen in the closet that is going to destroy the good Earth with run away warming and dangerous climate change.

Second, any CO2 release from wood pellets is not fossil based. It was just pulled out of the atmosphere in that last crop rotation or in any of the wood waste that it was made out of. So it is not accumulative to any net CO2 in the open atmosphere.

Third. Why quote some alarmist advocacy group in your quoted paragraph to mislead readers how supposed pellet material are grown in lowlands? Are you going to start quoting GreenPeace, the Sierra Club, Earth Justice, etc? “According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), it is difficult to restore these forests after logging because they take a long time to mature and being logged once can alter flooding patterns, reducing the diversity of plant and tree species when the forest does eventually regenerate.” Really? Most of the pellet material is wood waste, bark, saw dust, thinning’s, branches and other wood fibre that doesn’t make it as pulp, OSB, boards or any other commercial product. Some of it is pine, grown as a quick cash crop, but so WHAT? We have a very diversified forest industry where every product is utilized for highest and best use. The subsidies are by the crazies in the UK who chose not to burn perfectly good coal below their own feet. Don’t blame the pellet industry for the ignorance of the Brits!

You of all people should know that the pellet industry on the West Coast, from Alaska to British Columbia, to Wa, Oregon and Northern Cal, is nearly 100% based on recovery of wood waste that has no further final best use than to be converted into a valuable wood pellet that burns very clean. Nobody, I repeat nobody, protests the lowly wood pellet on the left coast. Except some nut bars at WUWT. Which you appear to be trying to join in your haste.

I spent 25+ years lobbying govt’s and industry to give away the wood waste to the pellet guys instead of burning it wholesale in giant beehive burners. Make something useful out of it. Just think if WUWT would have successfully advocated globally that some aging coal fired plants be co-fired with 20%-25% wood pellets. Experience shows that coal power plants can co-fire up to 30% pellets without burner adjustments with reductions in GHG make it similar to emissions from similar NG fired facilities. And the older coal fired plant could have been operational to its natural life design expectancy, not having had to ever pre-maturely blow up any perfectly functioning coal fired assets. Talk about a win-win, compared to just shutting them down prematurely. Now that would have been a different world, and it didn’t really happen because two sides got entrenched in folly. Just like this simple comment above whose exact words wasn’t taken in full context.

Reply to  Earthling2
December 31, 2018 7:24 pm

“They are clearcutting large swaths of forest and converting it all to wood pellets for Drax. That’s the point.”

Willis, I apologize if I come across as a jerkey on this issue. But I really think the wood pellet industry is being hung out to dry regarding Drax. It is a commercialized plantation that is being clear cut, not even a second growth forest, although undoubtably the vast majority of raw product is wood waste that is a result of the second growth industry. Why penalize the pellet guys for a subsidy in the UK? The wood pellet industry in the USA/Canada doesn’t receive any direct subsidy like the corn/ethanol industry. It makes me mad because I think it is a gross misreprensation of the facts meant to fill a narrative that all biomass is bad.

I would try and write up a comprehensive article about said subject (and take the heat for crossing WUWT editorial policy on said subject) but I doubt Anthony would publish it. I think I could make a strong defensive case for the pellet industry (Drax notwithstanding) and that we need to separate the fiction of all biomass is bad by pointing to Drax as the problem. Since you are a genuine citizen scientist with only arriving at honest truth derived hypothesis, I would urge you to at least consider writing an article for WUWT on the wider pellet industry at large, and even perhaps present a balanced side to both arguments. This would perhaps settle some of the issues with a good debate that would be very educational for everyone. The pellet industry deserves a good trial before a hangin’.

In any event Happy New Year from the balmy tropics, and all the best to you and yours!

December 22, 2018 1:12 pm

It is obvious that renewables will take an extremely long time to have any affect on CO2 emissions. If anyone wants to make a bug impact on CO2 emissions it is not by switching from coal to natural gas. It is by removing all of the vapor emissions from coal fired power plants using the ZECCOM™¹ (Zero Emissions Coal Combustion) Process, and all of the vapor emissions from natural gas fired power plants using the ZENGCOM™¹ (Zero Emissions Natural Gas Combustion) Process. If even more CO2 emissions are required, all of the refineries in the world could process Deasphalted Alberta Bitumen from the ZEST™¹ (Zero Emissions SAGD Technology) Process because that would reduce most of the oil emissions by 40-45%. For the petroleum fired power plants the ZEPCOM™¹ Process would remove all of the rest of the petroleum emissions. Richard L. Hood

December 22, 2018 1:53 pm


Your scatterplot indicates the trend is “0.02 cents per additional kW.” That’s two hundredths of a cent. But the slope and the Y-axis scale suggests you meant to say the trend is two cents per additional kW. Clarify? Thanks.

December 23, 2018 6:47 am

Hey Willis, you are a master of analysis and clear presentation. You’ve clearly shown renewables are inconsequential as a global power source. Another lesson from your data is that all increase CO2 emissions for the last 25 years (and all projected increases) are from non-OECD countries that account for 80/% of global population. Even zero US emissions would be offset in decades by non-OECD.

Farmer Ch E retired
December 23, 2018 8:26 am

Willis – thank you for this very nice data analysis. I’ve got a question/request.

According to your first graph above, China presently consumes about 2700 Mtoe (assumed annually) from fossil fuels which includes about 1900 Mtoe from coal. Is it possible to divide this fossil fuel usage among China’s clients? For example, how much is used to produce goods for sale in the US, in the EU, etc.? This data can give us a transparent view of fossil fuel usage by other countries that depend on goods from China.

Thank you.

December 23, 2018 9:38 am

The article (link below) states “…about 80% of the power generated in Canada is already decarbonized.” That does not match up well with Canada’s graph in this post which indicates coal at 5% and oil at 31%. The article also states “Currently coal power supplies only 9% of Canada’s power…” I suppose there are multiple sources for fuel mix data

Brooks Hurd
December 23, 2018 10:41 am

Excellent article, Willis.

Seeing your graphs puts in perspective the folly of thinking 100% renewables is a reasonable goal for achieving anything besides virtue signaling.

I have a spreadsheet I made from the California generation breakdown from 2001 through 2017. Let me know if you would like it.

December 23, 2018 1:51 pm

Outstanding article, Willis.
On thing that stands out is that Biomass and biofuels are only a minor player in the energy mix despite the huge promise over a decade ago that they would be major sources for fuel.
As one who consulted on numerous projects back over a decade ago, it was clear that these no only had economic problems but also technical problems.
One should take note of the huge subsidies and expenditure of resources including cash and talent which the USA expended on a folly with such little payback even with the US Navy being forced to pay exorbitant premiums to prop up this industry.
Think where we might be if the money were spent wisely on better projects.

December 23, 2018 7:00 pm

“After my previous post on the subject of the fuel mix that powers the planet”
I don’t see a link back to that; I think it is this one:

The comments about India, Africa, and biomass prompted me to look at the data source.

I think after looking at footnotes in that document, that all of this data is about commercial fuel sources. It would only make a noticeable difference in third world countries, the ones where the poor have to burn wood or grass or dung or peat or whatever they can scratch up.

As everybody did ever since fire was discovered. Fireplaces, candles, steam locomotives, horse and buggy, those were the good old days we can look forward to going back to. It’s a very romantic idea, with practical disadvantages.

December 23, 2018 8:06 pm

Excellent wrap-up of stuff I’ve been aware of both intra-industry and jaw-dropped observance as a modelling/forecasting researcher who tripped over the insanity in 2003 when I first had occasion to look behind the curtain (I wholly trusted the meme until that point — literally laughed at “the denialists” until then, then came up ranting and furious after only 2 days hard digging once the first fraud accidentally came to light).

or perhaps ALSO

Could you perhaps overlay on these graphs, the PRICE of electricity.
Just to nail the actual reality. Of the larger consequences.

ie. What you’ve pointed out here is that the fuel mix is nowhere near where the evangelists are touting.
You’ve demonstrated that one side of this is rubbish.

But if you throw in (as a line graph, just for Comprehensibility-purposes) the price of electricity as these changes/non-changes were happening, that would seriously aid the larger communication of the larger problem.

I would suggest, if possible, that you do all of: Average Retail Price, then Price for Residential Customers and Price for Commercial Customers.
And if you can: Wholesale Price.

The lunatic acceleration of the price, vs the only-minor changes in the mix, would show in 1 pic per country what the actual impacts are.
Similar to your graph plotting price-vs-renewablesproportion, but showing the time progression.
I think this would add to the impact of what you’ve already done, with fairly light additional work.

[By site policy, you are required to use a login_id of more than 1 letter. .mod]

Jan Kjetil Andersen
Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
December 24, 2018 5:58 am

The long link is due to all parameters for a filled in form for Sweden. The actual link is

Choose source group energy data.

Christopher Crouch
December 24, 2018 12:12 pm

Great article, however you have not included the fuel cost in Canada, which I believe would be off your scale as it is so inexpensive. We need cheap energy here as it is so bloody cold and life would be intolerable if we had to pay European electricity costs. Here in Quebec the electricity supplier is known as HydroQuebec………..for obvious reasons !

December 24, 2018 1:16 pm

And things aren’t going to change in the China region. Next door Mongolia has huge resources of untapped coal, hasn’t been used so far because it’s too far from ports, but it’s only a matter of time. Expect China-Mongolia relations to be ‘warm’ in coming decades.

The above graphs also very much relate to geography, UK coal was utilised early because of closeness to ports and hungry markets, Chinese coal was far from ports and so developed late. Innovative policies and favourable property rights also had something to do with it. But you don’t hear much about geography in renewables /energy debates (and is the bane of most dictators and historical empires), but as always, geography plays a major role.

A useful book here is ‘ Why the west rules’ which emphasises geography in the industrial revolution.

Richard D. Patton
December 24, 2018 10:33 pm

A few comments on wood pellets. Here in the South, a number of pulp and paper mills have closed and gone to Indonesia and Australia. A considerable number of tree farmers have no outlet for their product. The wood pellet industry has been a help to Southern tree growers.

Co-firing with coal is probably not the best use of wood pellets. Costs at the factory for industrial pellets are $120/ton or $7.50/million BTU. In Europe, natural gas costs $9.00/million BTU. Coal is more like $3.00/million BTU.

Unlike coal, pellets have very little ash, sulfur or nitrogen. Their pollution profile is similar to that of natural gas, and they do better economically when competing against gas or other alternatives. In the US, gas is much cheaper than in Europe, but if you are not on the gas line, pellets are cheaper than propane or heating oil for home heating.

December 26, 2018 1:54 pm

Excellent graphs, I wonder if your graphs would have more imp[act if you could overlay price per KW/h for the countries!

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