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Fossil Fuel Generation Outpaces Renewables in 2021 – IEA

January 14, 2022

By Paul Homewood


The IEA has published its latest Electricity Market Report:






This is the key section:





Fossil fuel generation increased by 950 TWh last year, whereas renewables increased by 463 TWh.

Part of the increase relates to recovery in demand from 2020 pandemic levels, but it is plain that renewable energy will continue to struggle to even meet increased demand in coming years, never mind start replacing fossil fuels.



My view is that the IEA are ultra optimistic in even that assumption, as we know that coal power is still meeting the majority of extra demand in China and India. It is unlikely in the extreme that Europe and the US can offset this.


While Fatih Birol whistles in the dark, the fine words at COP26 hit the wall of reality.

  1. Coeur de Lion permalink
    January 14, 2022 7:07 pm

    Wherever it comes from, CO2 will increase in the atmosphere at 2ppm a year for the foreseeable future. If the globe cools, then after a delay, out gassing will fall and alarmists will be able to claim. But by then the overegged alarmism and ‘extreme’ weather meme will have lost credibility. Not in my lifetime, sadly

  2. marlene permalink
    January 14, 2022 8:00 pm

    And it needs to continue to outpace so-called “renewables” that cost just too much, not only in the price of electricity etc., but in the amount of fuel it takes to become a “renewable” source of energy, which is always unreliable.

  3. January 14, 2022 8:05 pm

    UK renewables (wind, solar) were running at about 2% of total electricity generation today. Bearing in mind that much power use is not even from electricity, the whole concept of net zero is obvious nonsense.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      January 14, 2022 8:41 pm

      Electricity is about 20% of UK energy consumption. All the rest (80%) is not from renewables Even at 25% solar +wind electricity, it is still only 5% of total energy consumption. At times like right now solar + wind is less than 0.1% of total energy consumption. Net Zero is such a crazy notion it beggars belief.
      The only non fossil fuel option that could scale up is nuclear power but it would appear to some, even on this blog, I am not allowed to suggest that option- apparently it is “whataboutery” whatever that may be..

      • January 15, 2022 9:12 am


        If a working and reliable power grid that does not emit CO2 is required there are no options. It is the Hobson’s choice of nuclear. Even then nuclear is not the answer entirely from an opertaional point of view as it cannot easily load follow. The new Small Modular Reactors. I understand can do that, but there are non in commercial grid operation as far as I know? So yet to be proved.

        Practically we will need gas for decades to come to do the balancing of supply and demand. (Also from a security of supply, shutting down and destroying viable coal stations may prove itself to be the dreadful decison that it is) They cannot be replaced by renewables on a technical basis much less the dreadful intermittency.
        Why is this not obvious to the government and it’s advisors?

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        January 15, 2022 11:29 am

        Ian Reid. nuclear power plants can load follow (they have been doing it for decades in France) but it does not make any real economic sense and potentially on older designs increase wear. The EPR at Hinkley Point C is specifically designed to load follow almost as rapidly as a CCGT. The point being the fuel cost is unaffected by output so they might as well run flat out even if surplus power is wasted.
        New designs as you say have quite spectacular variability being suitable for both baseload and peaking load. The Moltex design is now about to be deployed in Canada. This is a big selling point in enabling variable renewables.
        However even with older designs this report from power engineer Andy Dawson accurately shows how nuclear can balance demand.

      • Richard Jarman permalink
        January 15, 2022 5:39 pm

        The most alarming thing about your interesting exchange with Iain Reid, all of which seems entirely sensible to me, is that these views are not debated by the main stream media or by any political party in the UK with the ability/ prospect to govern – how do we change that?

    • Micky R permalink
      January 15, 2022 7:33 am

      At one point yesterday, Gridwatch was showing (wind + solar) at 1.14% of electricity demand. I was checking to see if wind was going to achieve a negative contribution i.e. total power input exceeds total power output; assuming that Gridwatch includes input power for each element.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        January 15, 2022 11:21 am

        Hi Micky, nuclear power shows nett return on generation and includes those plants offline consumption as well
        Other large plants (gas/coal etc) similarly report on a nett basis though tend not to be power consumers when offline.
        Wind turbines uniquely do NOT report on such a nett basis so when they are being powered (rotated to avoid brinelling and rotor warp) this consumption is not accounted for against the generator and simply added to the demand side figure. I Believe poster “It doesn’t add up” did derive an estimate of this power consumption but I can’t find it right now. Either ways it will never show up on Gridwatch as a negative figure even if all output from wind stopped.

      • Micky R permalink
        January 16, 2022 8:50 am

        Thanks Ray. I have tried searching for up-to-date values for power input, but can’t easily find anything recent.

  4. Mal Fraser permalink
    January 14, 2022 9:01 pm

    Nuclear is the only option, that is if you would disregard the billions of tonnes of coal under the North sea. Good old Tony sold Westinghouse to the US, some foresight that Mr Blair. Boris may well be a buffoon but the thought that we might once again be subject to Messrs Milliband, then we will definitely be heading for penury!
    Some good news will be the abolition of ‘smart’ motorways as the hard shoulder will have to become end to end charging points, then probably the third lane, then….yep, just nonsense. Not really sure why China would want influence our Parliament, other than to learn how not to have a sustainable and efficient energy policy!

    • Jordan permalink
      January 14, 2022 9:54 pm

      China could learn a lot from Westminster. “Wine time Friday” for a start.

  5. Martin Brumby permalink
    January 14, 2022 10:58 pm

    I guess both Xi Jinping and Vlad the Bad tune into the BBC for a really good laugh fest.
    A bit like “After Life” series 3, but even more embarrassment, even more laughs.

  6. Mad Mike permalink
    January 15, 2022 6:07 am

    Totally off topic but I’m in California atm. Yes it is warm thank you. The thing is my daughter, who i’m staying with, had solar panels installed in 2013. It was a deal with a solar company who have the responsibility for the panels. Anyway, yesterday they came to completely replace the panels with new ones as the originals were not up to the job apparently. That about 8 years of service. Not great for the environment nor has it been a great investment I would have thought.

    Keep warm everybody.

    • Broadlands permalink
      January 15, 2022 4:08 pm

      The disposal of worn out and inefficient solar panels (some leaking toxic chemicals) will put a lot of stress on the conventional vehicles using fossil fuels to transport them to wherever solar panel graveyards exist. Lowering CO2 emissions can only make it worse. Unintended consequences have consequences.

  7. Nick Anaxagoras permalink
    January 15, 2022 5:03 pm

    Fact 1: Remove the Earth’s atmosphere or even just the GreenHouse Gases and the Earth becomes much like the Moon, no water vapor or clouds, no ice or snow, no oceans, no vegetation, no 30% albedo becoming a barren rock ball, hot^3 (400 K) on the lit side, cold^3 (100 K) on the dark. At our distance from the Sun space is hot (394 K) not cold (5 K).
    That’s NOT what the Radiative GreenHouse Effect theory says.
    RGHE theory “288 K w – 255 K w/o = a 33 C colder ice ball Earth” 255 K assumes w/o keeps 30% albedo, an assumption akin to criminal fraud.
    Nikolov “Airless Celestial Bodies”
    Kramm “Moon as analog for Earth”
    UCLA Diviner lunar mission data
    Int’l Space Station HVAC design for lit side of 250 F. (ISS web site)
    Astronaut MMU w/ AC and cool water tubing underwear. (Space Discovery Center)

    Fact 2: The GHGs require “extra” energy upwelling from a surface radiating as a black body.
    According to the K-T atmospheric power flux balance and numerous clones the GHGs must absorb an “extra” 396/333/63 W/m^2 LWIR energy upwelling from the surface allegedly radiating as a black body. These graphics contain egregious arithmetic and thermodynamic errors. See

    Fact 3: Because of the significant non-radiative, i.e. kinetic, heat transfer processes of the contiguous participating atmospheric molecules the surface cannot upwell “extra” energy as a black body.
    As demonstrated by experiment, the gold standard of classical science.
    For the experimental write up see:

    No RGHE, no GHG warming, no CAGW or mankind/CO2 driven climate change.

  8. Jack Broughton permalink
    January 15, 2022 8:30 pm

    People who previously thought that Net-zero was sensible are now becoming doubters.
    The tragedy is that they have already destroyed the UKs stored energy: both coal at power stations and stored gas. This leaves us largely dependent upon spot market trading and the “Derivatives salesmen”.

    The right answer is to get Rough and Aldbrough back into gas-storage service and protect what remains of our once excellent coal fired power stations.

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