Skip to content

Renewable Capacity Rose Slightly Last Year–Guardian Gets Excited!

April 7, 2020

By Paul Homewood

h/t Robin Guenier


More of the usual renewable energy propaganda from the Guardian:



Almost three-quarters of new electricity generation capacity built in 2019 uses renewable energy, representing an all-time record. New data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) shows solar, wind and other green technologies now provide more than one-third of the world’s power, marking another record.

Fossil fuel power plants are in decline in Europe and the US, with more decommissioned than built in 2019. But the number of coal and gas plants grew in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In the Middle East, which owns half the world’s oil reserves, just 26% of new electricity generation capacity built in 2019 was renewable.

The world has invested about $3tn in renewables over the past decade, according to Irena, but annual investments must double by 2030 to tackle the climate emergency.



You’d be forgiven for thinking that the world will soon be 100% powered by renewable energy at this rate.

But, of course, the Guardian is misleading its readers by solely looking at CAPACITY and not GENERATION.

The addition in capacity last year was virtually all wind and solar, 59 GW and 98 GW respectively:




Hydro power has, of course, been around for ever, and is now at a bit of a dead end.


Given that wind and solar plants produce so little electricity in terms of capacity, this new additional capacity is paltry, and will probably generate much less power than the new fossil fuel capacity added.

Assuming load factors of 25% and 10% for wind and solar, the new capacity in 2019 will generate 215 TWh a year, just 0.8% of global electricity consumption. Since the latter has been growing at an annual rate of over 3%, growth in renewables cannot even keep up increasing demand.

Even if demand stopped rising, it would take 94 years before the world’s power went 100% renewable at this rate. We must also remember that electricity only accounts for about 40% of total energy consumption.

The Guardian also falsely claim that solar, wind and other green technologies now provide more than one-third of the world’s power. It is not clear where they get this from, because the IRENA report does not even mention generation.

The latest data we have is from BP for 2018. This shows that renewables generated 25% of the world’s electricity. However the bulk of this, 16%, came from hydropower, and this figure has changed little in recent years.

Wind and solar power, which the Guardian is keen to highlight, only accounted for 7% of the world’s electricity.

Finally, we must not ignore the Guardian’s brag:

The world has invested about $3tn in renewables over the past decade,

Ye gods!!  In the last ten years, this “investment” has produced an extra generation of 2869 TWh a year, just 11% of the world’s demand. And that includes hydro power.

Even assuming that demand for electricity stops increasing, we would need to spend another $24 trillion. And even then we would still need keep all of the conventional capacity we have, to meet demand when the wind is not blowing and the sun not shining.

  1. Harry Passfield permalink
    April 7, 2020 7:22 pm

    The world has invested about $3tn in renewables over the past decade

    (You nearly beat me to it..)
    ….’The world’ has enriched carpetbaggers! Who are making a fortune from a product that delivers a quarter of the promised output and is freely (for them) supported by the very system they claim to be replacing. When a new generation (of people) figures this out there will be upset (understatement!).

    • April 7, 2020 10:52 pm

      Money spent is not value gained…

  2. Phillip Bratby permalink
    April 7, 2020 7:26 pm

    The Grauniad (like the BBC) has never been able to understand that power is not the same as energy and hence all their reporting on such topics is wrong (deliberately misleading?). This electricity stuff is far too technical for the reporters and correspondents in most of the media.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      April 8, 2020 7:20 pm

      I suspect they understand only too well Phillip.

      We also know they specialise in cherry picking the most favourable terms to advance their cause, (eg presenting higher capacity figures without explaining they’re often just 30% of actual output) while lying by omission is absolutely standard practice at these outlets.

      It’s thanks to blogs like this that the public get informed, in a way which we never would if we relied on the utterly partisan MSM.

  3. Pancho Plail permalink
    April 7, 2020 8:44 pm

    I have redrawn the graphic to show both historic and new on the same scale but don’t know how to insert a JPEG. I puts into into an entirely new perspective.

  4. April 7, 2020 10:32 pm

    we would need to spend another $24 trillion

    Add that to the trillions already spent, then spend it all again on a rolling 20-ish year cycle when their working lives end. Not going to happen.

  5. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    April 8, 2020 9:11 am

    Leftards lie. Don’t know why.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 8, 2020 12:05 pm

      Because life doesn’t fit their dream world – remember socialism is perfect for society but nobody has ever done it properly – and anything for the cause.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        April 9, 2020 9:27 am

        So, they are clinically insane, as I always thought.

  6. MrGrimNasty permalink
    April 8, 2020 10:01 am

    Most of this money-pit ‘investment’ needs to be repeated every 20-25 years (and that is probably being highly optimistic).

    NTZ agrees with me! Often season/weather changes, not economic shutdown, is mostly responsible for MSM claims of improved air quality. Wood burning (and evil BBQs!!!) biggest menace to civilization. No sign of dramatic CO2 impact yet.

    7 different types of bee/bee fly/hover fly on my Pear blossom yesterday afternoon, and the damned pear midge, but so much for insectageddon.

  7. David Allan permalink
    April 8, 2020 10:33 am

    It’s the Grauniad. Say no more.

  8. Mike Jackson permalink
    April 8, 2020 10:51 am

    Another pressure group with its teeth firmly clamped on the public teat and a preference for conferences in warm places.

  9. jack broughton permalink
    April 8, 2020 12:57 pm

    The brainwashing / propaganda war is being fought desperately by the backers of the fear-campaign. Almost all engineering publications are full of hype about the success and growth of “Renewables”. Few of them will publish any comment regarding the dishonesty of these claims. The masters-of-fear still totally control our Media and there is no sign of that changing, apart from a handful of reporters who are allowed some space.

  10. Gamecock permalink
    April 8, 2020 4:06 pm

    ‘Fossil fuel power plants are in decline in Europe and the US, with more decommissioned than built in 2019. But the number of coal and gas plants grew in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.’

    No connection there. No. None at all.

  11. jack broughton permalink
    April 9, 2020 12:08 pm

    What is truly astonishing is that the western world has invested $trillions in replacing power plant with renewables based plant that is inferior to that replaced, all on the basis of a hypothetical causation link between rising carbon dioxide and temperature.

    Manufacturing industry will follow the fossil fuel based low cost power, while the west becomes a services sector. This will only last until the rest of the world has more money, then it will change.

    The effect of de-industrialisation on the UK’s ability to respond to the Covid 19 situation by producing simple equipment gives a good glimpse of the future

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: