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Global fossil fuel use similar to decade ago in energy mix

June 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood



From Reuters:




The share of fossil fuels in the world’s total energy mix is as high as a decade ago, despite the falling cost of renewables and pressure on governments to act on climate change, a report by green energy policy network REN21 showed on Tuesday.

Fossil fuel use has persisted amid rising global energy demand, continued consumption and investment in new fossil fuel plants, and lower use of biomass energy — such as wood or agricultural waste — in heating and cooking, the report said.

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil creates carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.

As the atmospheric concentration of CO2 emissions has grown to record levels, calls have grown for governments to make steeper emissions cuts and curb the use of fossil fuels to meet global climate goals.

REN21 said the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix was 80.2% in 2019, compared to 80.3% in 2009, while renewables such as wind and solar made up 11.2% of the energy mix in 2019 and 8.7% in 2009, the report said.

The rest of the energy mix comprises traditional biomass, used largely to cook or heat homes in developing countries.



Yet, in many regions, including parts of China, the European Union, India and the United States, it is now cheaper to build new wind or solar photovoltaic plants than to operate existing coal plants.

Renewables also are outcompeting new natural gas-fired power plants on cost in many locations, and are the cheapest sources of new electricity generation in countries across all major continents, the report said.

"We are waking up to the bitter reality that the climate policy promises over the past ten years have mostly been empty words," said Rana Adib, REN21’s executive director.

"The share of fossil fuels in final energy consumption has not moved by an inch," she added. 


There is the usual nonsense about how cheap renewables now are. The authors of the report don’t seem to have worked out that countries such as China and India don’t want them for the simple reason that they don’t work. They might be fine for niche operations and topping up, but they have worked out that you cannot build an entire power grid around wind and solar power.

  1. paul2201 permalink
    June 17, 2021 10:44 am

    “renewables such as wind and solar made up 11.2% of the energy mix in 2019 and 8.7% in 2009, the report said”.

    I wonder how true that is. I imagine that in 2009 the renewables were mostly hydro (the one renewable that does work, where topography allows) and they would all still be there in 2019.

  2. MikeHig permalink
    June 17, 2021 10:45 am

    While the percentage supplied by fossil fuels has stayed the same, total energy consumption has increased. So, in absolute terms, FF consumption has increased – by over 10% eyeballing that graphic.
    Renewables have not got close to meeting the rise in demand, let alone starting to displace FF.

  3. June 17, 2021 11:42 am

    Haulage, shipping, aviation, heavy industry etc. won’t be running on electricity any time soon.

  4. Anders Valland permalink
    June 17, 2021 1:16 pm

    This cannot be true. Wind and solar does not make up 11% of the total energy mix. The figure is closer to 3-4%. Renewables are dominated by hydropower still.

  5. Harry Passfield permalink
    June 17, 2021 1:18 pm

    Per Reuters:

    Burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil creates carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.

    Not true. It is not the main driver of the ghe. Reuters should know better; they probably do; which is sadder.

  6. Philip Wood permalink
    June 17, 2021 3:53 pm

    Article in the DT yesterday indicated that electricity will be much more expensive using renewables only. Who’d have thought it ?

  7. REM permalink
    June 17, 2021 4:12 pm

    We are currently having difficulty trying to find an electricity supplier that does NOT guarantee that they will “only supply 100% renewable electricity” because we don’t believe them. Neither can we find one that doesn’t insist on fitting a “smart” meter; or one that will bill you each month, or take a direct debit each month for what you’ve used, rather than insisting on a direct debit based on THEIR calculated estimate of your annual usage divided by twelve. Has anyone here found such a company?

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      June 17, 2021 4:45 pm

      I was using Avro Energy. When I very recently renewed having paid £72 for the previous 12 months and achieving an end of period credit of no less that £108 but they suggested increased payments of – wait for it – £93 per month based on their useage figures. So I emailed them, ran through some simple arithmetic and pointed out that £78 per month would be more than adequate. They replied that I was wrong and they would put up my payments regardless.
      I then insisted that a senior manager ring me to discuss their remarkably strange logic that a 8% increased tariff should require a customer (in substantial credit) to pay a 30% increased monthly repayment.
      A young man rang me to insist they were correct and that he did not “like” my “attitude”. At this point I advised I would close my account and cancel my direct debit because I do not give my business to (rather rude word that starts with “tw” and rhymes with “cats”) like him.
      At this point someone (sounding somewhat older) at their end must have been monitoring the call and intervened. They agreed to set the monthly payment at my suggested figures. I told them to take a hike as I still do not want to do business with idiots and rude ones at that, At this point they agreed to credit my account with £50 of free units and keep the payments for the next year at the original £72. with such a result I agreed to stay with them….RESULT!
      My suggestion is to be firm but fair (well fair enough for jazz) with suppliers and do not take any sh1t from them!.

      • REM permalink
        June 17, 2021 5:19 pm

        Thanks for that Ray. I’m trying to avoid those pre-calculated monthly average payments because I’ve always had the same hassle you describe and have subsequently moved on. Octopus is the only one we’ve found so far that recommends, but doesn’t insist on, a smart meter.

  8. Juglans Nigra permalink
    June 19, 2021 11:39 pm

    From Reuters: A new age in statistal analysis: “we can now announce that percentages of energy in 2019 will total to 100.1%” The rest of you are just deniers of reality. ” / sarc

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