Renewable Energy Accounts for 23% of World Electricity in 2012 – And Growing

  • November 28, 2019

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has released a report – 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book – regarding the status of renewable energy globally and in the US.

For the full Data book please go to the NREL press release site at and download the full report.

Wind and Solar are the fastest growing forms of energy production worldwide and are increasing by several orders of magnitude every few years.  Hydropower remains the largest single source of renewable energy production but new production opportunities are limited by availability and higher relative costs.

As Busbar costs for Wind and Solar continue to decrease (Solar costs down 80% over the last 10 years) it is not hard to see why renewables continue to increase their share of electricity generation and continue their contribution to achieving lowered emission targets.

Two things are required for renewables to move to move to total domination of electricity generation:

  1. Busbar costs lower than Coal or Nuclear alternatives; and
  2. Better Grid scale battery storage options (see recent advances from ABB on this front) in order to ensure reliability of supply and ability to cope with massive peak demand surges.  At the moment only hydro power complies with this requirement, as it can supply the grid 24/7.

It should be noted that the NREL reports the compound annual growth rate of renewable energy electricity production has been 5.8% per annum between 2000 and 2012. If you apply the simple arithmetic of the late Professor Al Bartlett you will see that at this rate then renewable energy electricity production will double every 12 years. Thus in 12 years from now it would be 46% of all electricity production if there was no growth in demand – and in another 12 years it would be 92%.

Obviously there will be growth in demand, but you can see why conventional utility companies are worried. The compound growth rate of renewable energy production is actually increasing rapidly as costs fall and consumers vote with their wallets. There are also government initiatives in many countries around the world to hasten the move away from fossil fuel generated electricity so, aside from the US, that move to renewable energy electricity production will only accelerate – not slow down.

It is also therefore no surprise that green and renewable energy stocks have vastly outpaced all other stock indices over the past five years, so if you have not done so already then its perhaps time to consider your investment strategy now.


The key findings, graphs and statistics from the NREL report are:

•       Cumulative global renewable electricity installed capacity has grown by 97% from 2000 to 2012 (from 748 GW to 1,470 GW).
•       Renewable energy accounts for 23% of all electricity generation worldwide (4,892 TWh).
•       Wind and solar energy are the fastest growing renewable electricity technologies worldwide. Wind generation grew by a factor of nearly 16 and solar generation grew by a factor of 49 between 2000 and 2012.
•       In 2012, Germany led the world in cumulative solar photovoltaic installed capacity.  The United States leads the world in geothermal and biomass installed capacity.  China leads in wind, and Spain leads in solar thermal electric generation (STEG).



Image courtesy of NREL | 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book

Image courtesy of NREL | 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book

Image courtesy of NREL | 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book


•       In the United States, installed wind electricity capacity increased more than 23 fold between 2000 and 2012.
•       In the United States, wind experienced strong growth in 2012, and more than 13 GW of new capacity was added. Texas led the United States in wind installations in 2012, installing 1,826 MW of wind capacity.
•       In 2010, China surpassed the United States as the world leader in cumulative installed wind capacity, with more than 75 GW installed as of the end of 2012.
•       Although global cumulative installed offshore wind capacity surpassed 5 GW in 2012, no commercial offshore wind turbines have been commissioned in the United States thus far.


Image courtesy of NREL | 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book


•       Solar electricity generating capacity grew by a factor of over 21 between 2000 and 2012 and currently accounts for 0.3% of annual U.S. electricity generation.
•       Countries with extensive solar policies—such as Germany, Spain, and Italy— lead the world in solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment. Similarly, U.S. states with extensive solar incentives lead the United States in both cumulative and annual installations in 2012 (California, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada, and Colorado).
•       U.S. manufacturers currently have a small share of the worldwide PV market.  Asian—particularly Chinese—manufacturers lead the market with nearly 85% of the global photovoltaic module production.
•       30 MW of new concentrating solar power (CSP) capacity came online in the United States in 2012. Approximately 1.6 GW of CSP projects are currently under construction in the United States and are projected to come online in 2013 and 2014; 900 MW are estimated to come online in 2013 alone.


Image courtesy of NREL | 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book

Image courtesy of NREL | 2012 Renewable Energy Data Book

Why Gas Guzzlers Will Never Be As Good As Electric Cars?

  • November 28, 2019

. A massive consumer sentiment shift occurs when a product comes out that is fundamentally better than current products at a similar price point.

The clear advantages over a pure electric car like the Tesla model S over convential cars include:

– Typical cars will never be as safe as a car with a crumple zone as big as a Tesla model S.
– A typical car will never be able to accelerate and generate as much torque as an electric car in the 0-60 range.
– A typical car will never be as efficient as an electric. A conventional engine peaks out at around 40% with energy conversion. An electric motor is above 90%.
– A typical car will never be as simple as a pure electric, there are simply more moving parts.
– A typical car will never be able to match the handling / AWD of a vehicle with two independently controllable electric motors that can dynamically send power to any of the wheels at any time.
– A typical car’s suspension will never be able to match the smoothness of an all air suspension.
– A typical car will always need more maintenance work.
– No oil company is ever going to give fuel away for free, while Tesla will give electricity away for free forever.

The list goes on and on and on. These are fundamental improvements that all normal cars cannot match, because they physically cannot.

Indeed, 80% of people who have driven an electric car in an EV trial program in the UK are open to ditching gasmobiles. Smoother ride, better torque, smoother ride fewer mechanical problems and maintenance needs, much more efficient, doesn’t require you to fund global warming and oil dependency, super quiet, you aren’t exposed to so many pollutants so you’re safer, and it makes you feel better about yourself.

As far as the cost, for many people, electric cars are now cheaper than gasmobiles over the course of a few years (a shorter timeframe than most are likely to own the car). Depending on your projections for the cost of oil/gas in the coming years, as well as the EV charging options your utility (or solar-powered roof) provides, you might very well be in that “better and cheaper” consumer boat.

Of course, if cost isn’t an issue and you simply want an awesome car, the Tesla Model S or a host of electric supercars are available.

Many people say that we are not yet sure whether EVs will take the market away from gasmobiles, or if hydrogen fuel cell cars will do so. It’s seems beyond obvious that EVs will eventually dominate. Again, look at the list above, and also look at the cost trends

Rimac Concept_One EV Crushes Ferrari 458 Spider In Drag Race (Video)

Right now the Rimac Concept_One electric supercar is on a tour of the Middle East, and to prove its worth, Rimac set up an impromptu drag race. With a Ferrari.
With four electric motors producing a combined 1,073 horsepower and 1,180 ft-lbs of torque, the Rimac Concept_One is one of the most powerful vehicles in the world, gas or electric. With a 0-60 mph time of just 2.8 seconds and a silent-but-deadly powertrain, the Concept_One is currently showcasing its capabilities to the sheiks and oil barons of the Middle East.

Anyway, those are just numbers and words; this video of the Rimac Concept_One crushing a Ferrari 458 Spider in an impromptu drag race is something else:

Electric supercars may soon displace Ferraris and Lambos as the chariot of choice for the wealthiest among us, and Rimac is positioning itself as a literal leader in pure electric speed for a new century.

The rise of electric supercars like the Concept_One is certainly a bit exciting. I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy driving these cars, but it’s definitely fun reading, watching, and writing about them.…

Weekly Renewable Energy & Technology News Brief – Week 2 – November 2013 “scire quod sciendum –“Knowledge which is worth having”.

  • November 28, 2019


This week saw a focus on Climate Change questions like “Are Typhoon Disasters Getting More Common?” and “How Will We Pay for Climate Preparedness?”   An article on “The Ozone Hole History” offered a lesson on Climate Change.

Another common theme is that many US cities and states are now looking at localizing the grid (local ownership) and/or developing extensive renewable energy facilities as an alternative to traditional grid based power.  California, Colorado, Boulder, Michigan, New York were just a few of the major areas in the US working on those types of public policies.

There were also many articles on EV’s (electric vehicles) and their continuing  rapid growth in usage and popularity, combined with a growth in “Smart Cities” and smart vehicle technology.

A continuing trend saw many articles on the rapid spread of solar power, both in the US and worldwide, with further advances every week in solar PV technology, which promises to make solar both cheaper and more efficient in the near future.  The cost of solar PV panels is now only 1% of what they were 30 years ago and the cost has dropped over 80% in the last five years.  If the cost continues to fall, and the efficiency gains continue to increase, a full home solar installation for about 5-6 kilowatts should cost no more than about $2,000.00 within the next three years.

With the cost of 5 kw home solar storage batteries also falling dramatically it should be possible for millions of homes to be totally power self-sufficient within the next 3-5 years.  Offsetting this is the threat to current economic models and ownership of utility scale power generation companies and the political clout they wield, leading some power utilities to actively use the dirty tricks playbook to severely limit or ban the growth of renewables in some US states and cities.

Talk about dirty pool.  Responsible energy producers like Shell Oil have seen the future (Shell Oil publicly predicts gas driven autos will be finished by 2070) and have been actively changing their business model for years, so that they move with the times INTO renewable energy production, rather than dinosaur type efforts against such a move. Enlightened energy companies all over the world are moving forward with their business models and will change and grow as consumer consumption demand patterns also change. Unfortunately some US energy companies still think they can go on building steam engines forever. Perhaps it’s time they realised that their “steam engine” business models are as dead as the Dodo if they don’t embrace change – and quickly.

Utility companies better change their game plan – or they will just be out of the game.  Period.

The Infographics included in this article are from the New Jersey Science and technology University.  The final part, below, shows where the US energy sector is headed.  Utility companies would be well advised to jump on board early – or miss the boat.…

Weekly Renewable Energy & Technology News Brief – November 29th 2013 scire quod sciendum –“Knowledge which is worth having”.

  • November 28, 2019


There has been plenty of news this week on the renewable energy front, mainly around continued growth in solar, electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Major manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, Ford and GM all announced that they will have hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in mass production within the next few years, with some coming out as soon as late 2014.

Electric vehicles from BMW, Renault and Fiat are selling out before they can be produced and Tesla model S continues to have long wait times between order and delivery due to its continued poularity, in spite of the high price tag. An interesting fact is that recent research has shown that only 22% of consumers have even heard of the Tesla model S. Imagine how well they will sell when Elon Musk brings out a sub $50,000 model in the next year or so as promised,

Next comes the e-volo VC200 18 electric motor 2 person helicopter, which has been flown and shown to the press and is ready to go into production. It features a circular ring structure on top of the body, with 18 individually powered electric propellers spread around the ring. It seems very stable and easy to fly so better head on over and pick up your own personal mini-copter.

If that is not enough you can also now get your own personal electric mini-sub, called the Platypus. This is essentially an electric powered trimaran with a submersible center section. Get to where you want to explore, pop on your dive gear then lower the center section. The divers sit astride the center module below water, while the two outrider pontoons stay above water and keep the whole thing afloat.

Solar growth also exploded – again – and renewable energy provided 99% of ALL new energy production growth in the US for the month. If some people still don’t get it, renewable energy sources will replace fossil fuel based electricity production much sooner than some think. Getting rid of gasoline powered transportation entirely might take a little more time. Shell Oil have publicly forecast that gasoline powered transportation could be all gone by 2070 but we suspect that with the continuing rapid scientific advances in battery technology, fuel cell technology and production and distribution of both a hydrogen refueling network and more public supercharging electric power facilities (similar to the Tesla Supercharging stations) then electrics, plug ins and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will predominate by much earlier than 2050.

The US just recorded it’s 150,000+ plug in electric vehicle recently – after only reaching 100,000 earlier this year in May – so the rate of growth of these continues exponentially.

Many states and cities throughout the US also had wins on the public renewable energy front – a Solar Fee was defeated in Georgia and in Boulder, Colorado Measure 310 (sponsored by energy giant Xcel, to block public ownership of cheap, clean, renewable energy) was struck down by the voters. Some more wins for the good guys.

Nissan showed that autonomous cars cannot even kill politicians. They loaded the Japanese Prime Minister into the fully autonomous Nissan Leaf and sent him out on the highway. Fortunately he made it back alive, and autonomous vehicles took another step forwards. Sort of like Yuri Gargarin’s first manned space flight, but with higher pay for the pilot.

Well that just about wraps it up for another week.  All the entries from our Energy Blog this week are available on our Blog page under “Sitemap”.…

Weekly Renewable Energy & Technology News Brief – November 22nd 2013 scire quod sciendum –“Knowledge which is worth having”.

  • November 28, 2019


Well there has been a heap of news on the Renewable Energy front this past week, so we will try to cover the main points here.

We particularly like the new little “Hydrobee” that produces electricity from any flowing water into a coke-can sized unit which incorporates a hydro charging unit, two rechargeable batteries and a USB power dock.  Great for charging personal devices like mobile phones, anywhere, anytime.  Currently seeking cloudfunding on Kickstarter in order to go commercial, so head on over there if this tickles your fancy.  It did ours.

Also, Sun Edison is producing a solar powered electric pump which can revolutionise irrigated farming, particularly in places like India, Asia and Africa.  The unit is cheaper and more efficient than petrol or diesel powered alternatives and there are, would you believe, 45 million electric farming pumps in the world that can be replaced by this new technology.  There are over 10,000 of the new solar pumps operating in India already, and Sun Edison is scaling up for a multi billion dollar market around the world.  Cheaper to run, more efficient and zero pollution.  You’ve won me.

Of particular interest is that renewable energy sources (water, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar) contributed 99% of ALL new electricity generation in the US in October 2013.  Renewable energy now accounts for 16% of all electricity generation in the US and is growing rapidly, though still a long way behind some European countries like France and Germany.

The biggest paradigm shift in the application of renewable energy technology is the announcement by Ford and GM that they will market Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles within the next 10 years or so.  This is a good start, but US car makers are way behind BMW, Honda, Hyundai and others who already have Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles in production or being launched at this year’s major motor shows.  So there seems to be a major shift towards Fuel Cell Vehicles as opposed to Plug Ins, but Tesla and the like can rest easy for a while as the “chicken and egg” problem of funding and building major national hydrogen filling networks still remains.  The few companies that tried it thus far mainly went bust, as they were too far ahead of actual demand.  They built it, but nobody came.

Plug In Electric Vehicles continue to gain massive popularity around the world, with Renault and Fiat joining Tesla with successful models that they just can’t build fast enough to satisfy demand.  BMW and others are also entering the fray, so this segment will keep growing rapidly for the foreseeable future.  The long term battle between PIEV’s like the Tesla and the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric cars is a bit like the old video format battle between Beta and VHS (remember them?).  Either one format will dominate eventually – or you may end up with a hybrid between the two.  You can be sure that convenience, price and ease of use will be the final arbiters of this question in the longer term.

Another emerging trend is that many companies are showing governments the way and committing to going to 100% renewable energy just as soon as possible.  IKEA, Google and Apple are a few of the companies leading the way and many others are following suit.  Commercial size solar installations on the roofs of buildings and factories is making this possible, amongst other initiatives, like buying only green power.

The charge into Solar is gathering pace in the US, with numerous companies like Solar City (Elon Musk) developing lease-to-buy plans to fund mass consumer distribution, where solar has been slower to take off in the US than in other parts of the world.  This is mainly due to the US having comparatively lower electricity prices than most of the world, so the economic imperative to push consumers towards solar in the US has just not been there.  When you are paying only $0.08 per kwh you are not rushing out to buy solar.

However, in places like Australia, where electricity costs from $0.21 – $0.40 per kwh you can see why the state of Queensland in Australia now has more installed solar power generation capacity than around 22 countries.  With low installation costs the payback period for the average household in Queensland is only around 3-4 years, with a feed-in tariff back to the grid of $0.08 per kwh.

The advances in renewable energy technology noted this week are too numerous too list, but most involve improvements to components or processes to improve efficiency and power output from batteries, fuel cells, solar PV cells and panels, wind turbines and even improving mileage from petrol driven vehicles.  Most of these new technologies are at the laboratory or testing stages and whilst good in theory, many of these bright ideas may not make it through to commercialization.

Well that just about wraps it up for another week.  All the entries from our Energy Blog this week are available on our Blog page under “Sitemap”.…