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Solar & Wind Power Creeps Up To 4.5% Of World’s Electricity Generation

October 27, 2016

By Paul Homewood  




Just returning to yesterday’s story, these are the simple facts, rather than the hype from the IEA that gullible little Emily Gosden naively reported:


TWh 2014 2015
Wind 717 841
Solar 191 253
Total Electricity 23894 24098
Solar/Wind as % 3.8% 4.5%


Globally, the share of wind and solar in the electricity mix has limped upward from 3.8% to 4.5%. 

For some reason Emily did not think to mention the fact. 





It seems it is not only little Emily that got hoodwinked! CNBC, and no doubt many others, have also fallen for the IEA’s propaganda:




Steven Capozzola has done a good job of debunking this as well at Climate Change Dispatch:


CNBC viewers are being snookered.

The business news network featured an article in the “Sustainable Energy” section of its Website that proclaimed: “Renewables surged past coal in 2015 to become world’s biggest source of electricity: IEA.”

In reading that headline, one might get the impression that wind turbines and solar panels produced more electricity last year than coal. But the fine print actually reveals a very different picture.

The opening paragraph of the article by “Freelance digital reporter” Anmar Frangoul gives a clue as to the sleight of hand being used. Frangoul cites the International Energy Agency (IEA) as reporting that “Renewable energy moved past coal in 2015 to become the biggest source of global electricity capacity.” The key word there is “capacity.”

What’s noteworthy is that capacity is far different from actual production. The average wind turbine has a maximum rated capacity of roughly 2 megawatts. That means, if the wind is blowing between 26-56 mph, the turbine can spin up to its peak generating capacity. In such moments, the wind turbine can produce its full 2 megawatts.

However, wind turbines, like solar panels, offer only intermittent power generation. Wind turbines can only produce power when there is sufficient wind—and when they are not shut down due to cold weather, repairs, or high winds. And solar panels only produce electricity during periods of direct sunlight. Thus, while a wind turbine can have a maximum capacity of 2 megawatts, its typical output may often be far less, or even 0 megawatts (on a windless day).

In contrast, and as the IEA itself notes, coal provided 40.8 percent of worldwide power generation in 2014. The renewables that Frangoul crows about—defined by the IEA as “geothermal, solar, wind, heat, etc.”—produced only 6.3 percent of all power.

Thus we see some of the misleading language in the CNBC article.

Frangoul talks about renewables producing 23 percent of world power generation in 2015—which is only possible when hydropower’s robust 16.4 percent is added to renewables’ paltry 6.3 percent share. And while the IEA says that “renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world” in 2015, one has to remember their frustrating intermittency. Wind turbines only generate roughly 20 percent of their installed capacity, and solar panels yield an even more meager 10 percent.

So, while Frangoul is happy to tout all of this new power plant construction, one has to consider that it represents investments that will often sit idle.

Such imprudence might seem naive. But the IEA astutely notes that “renewable power expanded at its fastest-ever rate in 2015, thanks to supportive government policies.”

Indeed, it is these very subsidies that have triggered a rush to wind and solar, despite abundant evidence of their limitations. It would be interesting, then, for reporters like Frangoul to further examine these much-touted renewable projects, and see if “capacity” actually meets expectations.

  1. October 27, 2016 10:04 am


  2. A C Osborn permalink
    October 27, 2016 10:24 am

    Paul, Breitbart also picked up this story as well at

    I am quite surprised that you haven’t commented on the BBC’s “New Era” in Cliamte Change, they had a piece on the news and also this on their website.

    In which they quote the WMO, “Between 1990 and 2015 there was a 37% increase in radiative forcing or warming effect, caused by a build up of these substances, from industrial, agricultural and domestic activities.”
    Strange how there has been no warming to match that increase, they are trying their very best to remove the “Pause” with their adjustments, but most of us have better memories than they give us credit for.

  3. Dave Ward permalink
    October 27, 2016 10:43 am

    “Has limped upward from 3.8% to 1.5%”

    Paul, shouldn’t that read from 3.8% to 4.5%

  4. dennisambler permalink
    October 27, 2016 10:45 am

    The solar panel cleaning contract is the prize here……….

  5. Svend Ferdinandsen permalink
    October 27, 2016 4:15 pm

    Many headlines misunderstands what was said. It was said in the report that sun and wind had INSTALLED more capacity than coal.
    Journalists ability to read has detoriated. Could it be CO2, that has done that.

  6. October 27, 2016 4:31 pm

    El Hierro isn’t doing too badly, meeting 58% of demand in September.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      October 28, 2016 8:14 am

      Yes pretty good for a renewable, but would you be happy with a car which only worked four days a week?

      • October 28, 2016 7:37 pm

        And at random times of day, for unknown lengths of time.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      October 28, 2016 9:16 am

      Tiny….. no industry, just meaningless lighting for playboy mansions.

      Do you know meaning of the word “niche”

      Absolutely POINTLESS for any real purpose.

  7. October 27, 2016 6:08 pm

    “… or even 0 megawatts (on a windless day)”. Should be ‘even -x MW (on a windless day)”, as the turbines will usually be net consumers of power, known in the trade as ‘parasitic consumption’ .

    RWE Innogy used to have a live feed of how much power their renewables schemes were producing, this also showed parasitic consumption. Unfortunately it seems to have been killed off, probably because people like me cited how much power some of their schemes were using rather than producing.

    I have a nice screen-shot from 24 April, 2015, when their 509MW greater Gabbard offshore array was recorded as consuming 4,880kW (4.88MW), rather than producing power.

    Interestingly, they used to quote power output in kWh while quoting capacity in MW. Suspect they thought it made output figures look more impressive!

    • Joe Public permalink
      October 27, 2016 8:06 pm

      Yes, that live feed info was interesting.

      This is the info they now provide:

    • Joe Public permalink
      October 27, 2016 8:16 pm

      Just found that if you interrogate their wind-farm pages which lists each wind farm, there’s a column headed ‘Util.'(isation). If a figure is negative, that’s the parasitic load it’s drawing in real time.

      As I write this, UK’s onshore Novar2 farm is -0.41MW / -1%

      • Dave Ward permalink
        October 28, 2016 10:47 am

        This might explain the negative figures:

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