The end of fossil fuels

by John Quiggin on October 30, 2017

The International Energy Agency recently released data showing that world coal production fell sharply in 2016, mainly because of big cuts in China. Looking at the graph, it appears that the peak in production was around 2013. The price of coal has experienced a “dead cat bounce” over the last year or so, essentially because China has been closing coal mines faster than it’s been closing or cancelling coal-fired power stations, but the picture tells the story for the future.

Global coal production (source IEA)

Until relatively recently, the decline of coal was the result of competition with gas, while new renewables weren’t even enough to cover the growth in demand. But a quick calculation shows that renewables will soon be taking out a bigger bite. Global electricity generation is currently about 20000 terawatt-hours (TWh) a year, growing at around 1.5 per cent, or 300TWh a year. Installations of solar PV and wind (I haven’t checked on hydro and other renewables) for 2017 look set to come in around 150 gigawatts (GW). Assuming 2000 hours of operation per year, that’s just enough to offset demand growth. So, any future growth in renewables must come directly at the expense of existing fossil fuel generation which in practice will almost always mean coal.

Turning to transport, James Wimberley has an analysis of the prospects for peak gasoline (petrol) used in internal combustion engines. Summarising drastically, his best estimate for peak gasoline is 2032. Decarbonization requires an end to petrol-driven vehicle sales by around 2035. On this front, the good news is that quite a few countries, including the UK, France and India are pushing for an end to new sales with target dates ranging form 2030 to 2040.

Of course, all of this assumes that the attempts of Trump and his Australian counterpart Turnbull (along with likeminded culture warriors in Turkey, Poland and elsewhere) to bail out the dying coal industry come to nothing and also that Trump doesn’t manage to destroy the planet through nuclear war.

{ 39 comments }

1

evangeline m besiata 10.30.17 at 9:42 am

Its good to know that its improving

2

Matt 10.30.17 at 10:44 am

Why is Australian energy policy such crap? The giant coal mine the government wants to subsidize is pretty awful, but beyond that, there is shockingly little solar power for such a sunny country, and electricity (and natural gas) prices are super high. I’m surprised that it’s not a more obvious political issue, with an obvious and popular push to solar and the like. It’s one of the local mysteries to me.

3

Akshay 10.30.17 at 12:22 pm

Small point: I don’t know about India, but IIRC France and UK announced a target of ending new ICE sales by 2040, not 2030. The new Dutch government has an ambition to end them by 2030. Not sure if Plug-in hybrids would be allowed or not…

4

anon 10.30.17 at 12:35 pm

“Of course, all of this assumes that the attempts of Trump and his Australian counterpart Turnbull (along with likeminded culture warriors in Turkey, Poland and elsewhere) to bail out the dying coal industry come to nothing “

Why would it assume that? Your whole article states that the change is occurring due to China’s policies.

anon

5

map maker 10.30.17 at 12:53 pm

“Of course, all of this assumes that the attempts of Trump and his Australian counterpart Turnbull (along with likeminded culture warriors in Turkey, Poland and elsewhere) to bail out the dying coal industry come to nothing “

Or, on my campus, the enviro extremists who want to ban fracking and natural gas pipelines, which would do more to stimulate coal demand than anything Trump can do. Seriously, hard to have a rational conversation, where many say they’d rather have coal power plants than natural gas, and would rather not have a “bridge fuel” rather just a straight shot at renewables in some future date that is always future…

6

Mario 10.30.17 at 3:59 pm

Looks like good news. But how can we reconcile this drop in coal use with the latest report on greenhouse gases from the WMO?

Especially the fact that the rate of increase in CO2 was in 2016 higher than in any previous year.

7

Omega Centauri 10.30.17 at 8:24 pm

I had the impression that solar was doing very well in Australia. But, maybe its only residential rooftops that are doing well. You need a healthy commercial/industrial as well as utility solar sector for solar to become big enough.

Here in the USA, we are awaiting word of what the ITC will do with the Suniva case. Fearing import tarriffs/quota’s could put a serious damper on US solar growth. And wind has always been vulnerable to political shenigans, and offshore has just gotten started in the US.

8

John Quiggin 10.30.17 at 11:20 pm

@2 Essentially, the political right here is Trumpist, and like Trump, they’ve secured a narrow majority.

@3 Fixed now, thanks

@6 The atmospheric CO2 data is too noisy to pay much attention to a single year. But in any case, the decline in coal production, combined with increases in gas (and oil) suggests, at best, that emissions may have flattened out, at worse that they are still increasing but more slowly than before. Either way, emissions are at their highest level ever and so we would expect the same for the increase in atmospheric concentrations. The hope, as discussed in the post, is that renewables will start eating into the combined share of gas and coal, which would imply a reduction in emissions, at least for the electricity sector.

@7 Your impression is right. Solar rooftops have done spectactularly well, but large-scale renewable investment has suffered from repeated political shenanigans.

9

Matt 10.31.17 at 12:26 am

Thanks, John. re – 7: it’s dangerous to draw conclusions from local impressions, but at least in the greater Melbourne area, the number of roof-top solar panels seems much lower than in (not super sunny) Philadelphia, and massively lower than in (pretty sunny) Denver, the places I’d lived most recently. I would be surprised if it’s not a lot higher in Sunny Queensland, where John is, but here the relative poverty seems surprising given that electricity is really pretty expensive and there is lots and lots of new construction.

10

Matt 10.31.17 at 2:10 am

Looks like good news. But how can we reconcile this drop in coal use with the latest report on greenhouse gases from the WMO?

Especially the fact that the rate of increase in CO2 was in 2016 higher than in any previous year.

It could be the long-predicted-and-feared CO2 amplification taking hold in a warming world: more release of stored carbon from thawing and warming soils, more dying trees, more forest fires. And that’s even neglecting the places where people are deliberately clearing land.

We’re already past the point where emissions-reductions alone will stabilize the climate below +2C-over-preindustrial. The good news (bad news?) is that burning more fossil fuel can always make things even worse, so coal peaking and starting to decline is still a milestone worth celebrating.

11

Smass 10.31.17 at 2:24 am

@Matt,
Energy is a political issue in Australia (in large part because of the steep rise in energy prices) but as John says, much of the debate has been captured by the right wing. Hence, the government and parts of the media have blamed the use of renewables for high energy prices and/or power failures. The real reasons include the perverse incentives for overbuilding certain types of electricity infrastructure and the weak regulation of the export gas industry and subsequent artificial domestic shortage.

12

Will Boisvert 10.31.17 at 4:56 am

This is a tad optimistic; RE is making progress, but it hasn’t stemmed the increase of fossil fueled power yet. (All numbers from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017, Excel Databook.)

Electricity use is growing faster than 300 TWh per year. In 2016 electricity generation rose 601 TWh, 2.48 percent over 2015. Over the last five years electricity generation rose an average of 514 TWh per year, a compounded rate of increase of 2.2 percent per year.

Installed wind is forecast to come in at 60 GW in 2017, and solar at 90 GW. With global capacity factors of 25 percent and 15 percent respectively (per BP), 2017’s crop of wind and solar should generate about 250 TWh per year combined. That’s a little shy of half the current average rate of increase in electricity generation. The pace of wind and solar installations would have to double before they would be supplying all the growth in electricity use.

Hydro is also pitching in with an average growth of 104 TWh per year over the last five years. Nuclear, alas, has hit a drought and will probably grow just 20-30 TWh this year.

That leaves an average increase of about 140 TWh per year in electricity growth to be supplied by FF, adding perhaps 100 million tons of CO2 annually. Some of that may be offset by switching existing electricity generation from coal to gas, which has been a big factor in declining coal use (but with fugitive methane emissions a question mark)..

So it’s going to be a while before RE will be growing fast enough to eliminate the growth in emissions from the power sector, let alone reduce them. And that’s just the power sector; emissions from other sectors will meanwhile be growing unabated.

13

Area Man 10.31.17 at 4:59 am

It’s become almost cliche by now, but at least as far as Trump is concerned, there is almost nothing he can do to stop the decline of coal in the US. Coal plants are shutting down all over. What measures have been taken, and those left that can be taken, will have only small effects at the margins. Their main purpose at this point is to allow coal companies to squeeze what profits they can before the gig is up. Not that Trump understands this, mind you.

And this is assuming that the Trump administration lasts beyond next year or that whatever replaces it is just as absurdly anti-environmental.

14

Peter T 10.31.17 at 6:20 am

re Mat @ 10

A recent study looked at the sources for the continued rise in CO2. Human emissions are (slowly) falling but IIRC drought in the Amazon and drying in SE Asia led to forests there reversing their usual role as carbon sinks and becoming net carbon emitters. Absorption by the oceans also seemed to be slowing. There is also a rise in methane, source not yet identified.

It’s going to be a very near-run thing.

15

MFB 10.31.17 at 7:19 am

That’s a pretty graph. However, reduction in coal production does not equate to the solution of the global warming problem. As map maker inadvertently points out, it’s easy to shift over to burning other fossil fuels such as gas and oil which are extracted by horrendously destructive ways and have potentially even more disastrous impacts on global warming, and to justify this by saying “Look! We aren’t burning coal any more! Are we cute enough to kiss, or what?”

The reduction in coal production in the OECD countries is pretty much a product of a deliberate decision to outsource heavy industry to elsewhere. I suspect that a lot of the general reduction in coal production is due to an oversupply of heavy industrial materials; i.e., a possible impending economic slump. Of course it would be nice to attribute it to renewables, but that would require a massively greater investment in renewables (which ironically would probably require more burning of fossil fuels, since renewable manufacture is very energy-intensive).

16

Peter T 10.31.17 at 7:48 am

17

James Wimberley 10.31.17 at 12:41 pm

Will Boisvert # 12: You cite BP for an annual growth in electricity demand over 2%. Carbon Brief have a chart saying it has dropped below 1%, on a falling trend: https://goo.gl/images/xCxynY
This is a huge gap, since electricity is sold by huge companies that keep good records. Can anyone explain?

18

Omega Centauri 10.31.17 at 1:53 pm

Akshay @3
From what I’ve seen these promises of only “electric” new vehicles, by XX allow anything with a plug to qualify as electric. I would guess maybe half of the “electrics” will continue to be plug in hybrids, which at this point are thought to be easier to sell to range-o-phobic customers.

19

Will Boisvert 10.31.17 at 6:03 pm

@James Wimberley 17,

The Carbon Brief graph you linked to (which does not cite a source) ends in 2015 while the BP data I cited go to 2016. Electricity growth did slow in 2014 and 2015, but rebounded in 2016. (Also, Carbon Brief’s “electricity demand” is not quite the same metric as BP’s “electricity generation.”) This source https://yearbook.enerdata.net/electricity/electricity-domestic-consumption-data.html has electricity consumption growing “2 percent” in 2016, but I can’t extract precise yearly data from it.

The BP data on global electricity generation are here: https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/en/corporate/pdf/energy-economics/statistical-review-2017/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2017-full-report.pdf p. 46

Note that BP has 2016 electricity generation up 2.2 percent rather than my 2.48 percent because I forgot to factor in the extra day in the 2016 leap year. But the absolute growth in electricity generation, 601 TWh in 2016 and an average of 514 TWh per year 2011-6, is as I have it above.

I can’t find any (free) souce besides BP with precise figures on yearly electricity gen going back in time. (BP is considered pretty authoritative.) If anyone else can, please cite and let’s have a look.

20

Omega Centauri 10.31.17 at 6:37 pm

James @12.
Just a guess, but I think the difference is how much the electrification of XXX is factored into the guess. Where XXX is anything currently running on fossil fuels (such as transportation, heating, portable garden tools and what not). Certainly at my house electrification of transport has led to a large increase in electric consumption. If I replaced my gas furnace and water heater with heat pump versions of the same, that would be another large bump. So even in the developed world there is a lot of potential for new electric demand.

21

James Wimberley 10.31.17 at 7:00 pm

PS on electricity demand: the IEA confirm JQ’s ballpark growth rate of 1.5%. Details in a longer comment at JQ’s blog on the cloned post. Do you trust the IEA or BP less?

22

Benamery21 10.31.17 at 9:29 pm

Re: The 601 TWh of additional electricity consumption in 2016 over 2015 per BP. 2016 was a leap year, making it roughly 0.27% longer than 2015. Hence the calculated 2.48% simple increase reflects only a 2.2% increase in consumption rate.

P.S. There’s a footnote at the bottom of that BP table.

23

Benamery21 10.31.17 at 11:03 pm

The IEA’s 1.5% is for 2015/2014 and matches BP fairly well.

24

Kiwanda 11.01.17 at 2:26 am

BP says here that:

Despite high growth rates, renewable energy still represents only a small fraction of today’s global energy consumption. Renewable electricity generation (excluding hydro), is estimated to account for nearly 8% of global electricity generation. Renewables do, however, play a significant role in the growth of electricity, contributing almost 40% of the growth in global power generation in 2016.

The rapid growth of renewable power generation continued in 2016, with an increase of 14%.

Total production from all renewables (excluding hydro) was 419.6 in 2016 (in an oil-equivalent measure MTE), according to BP’s first table here, adding 52.5 MTE in 2015. From BP’s tables for wind and solar, they grew 47.1 MTE. So wind and solar contributed about 35% of the growth in global power generation from 2015 to 2016.

Also from BP’s tables, wind and solar’s contribution to global power generation grew about 25% annually from 2005 to 2016, and 20% annually from 2010 to 2016. So with another six years of 20% growth, wind and solar will contribute more than 100% of the 2015-2016 growth.

25

Will Boisvert 11.01.17 at 3:26 am

@ James Wimberley 21,

“PS on electricity demand: the IEA confirm JQ’s ballpark growth rate of 1.5%. Details in a longer comment at JQ’s blog on the cloned post. Do you trust the IEA or BP less?”

James, no, IEA data definitely do not confirm JQ’s claims here—in fact, they are in excellent agreement with the BP data I used.

You seem to be relying on a Carbon Brief article by Simon Evans from 2016, which contains the electricity demand-growth chart you linked to above. https://www.carbonbrief.org/seven-charts-show-new-renewables-outpacing-rising-demand-for-first-time

That graph shows electricity demand growth in 2015 of about 0.7 percent (by eyeball); that’s where you got the idea that growth had “dropped below 1 percent on a falling trend.” But that graph, and the whole article, is based on IEA’s “World Energy Investment Report 2016,” which mainly has data about investments, not electricity production stats (and also does not have the important 2016 numbers). Those stats are not germane to electricity *production*, and Evans misinterpreted them. The real IEA electricity production stats flatly contradict them and report a 2015 growth of 1.7 percent, well over twice the rate in the graph you cited.

The stats are in the IEA’s “Electricity Production Overview 2017.” (It has global stats only through 2015; IEA has not published 2016 stats.) https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/ElectricityInformation2017Overview.pdf
Here’s what IEA says: “Between 1974 and 2015, world gross electricity production increased from 6 287 TWh to 24 345 TWh, an average annual growth rate of 3.4%. In 2015, production was 1.7% higher than 2014.” That works out to an absolute growth of 407 TWh in 2015. These numbers are in fine agreement with (though slightly higher than) the BP stats, which report electricity growth in 2015 of 371 TWh (to 24,215 TWh total), up 1.6 percent over 2014.

So IEA electricity stats are quite consistent with BP numbers (and flagrantly inconsistent with how you characterized them). We can therefore have confidence in BP’s results for 2016, which show fast growth of 601 TWh, up 2.2 percent over 2015. And we can also trust BP’s historical stats showing avg yearly electricity growth of 514 TWh during the 2012-6 period, an average annual growth rate of 2.2 percent (much higher than the 1.5 percent growth rate posited in the OP). The BP numbers are the right ones for analyzing how well RE installations are keeping up with growth in the electricity sector.

Bottom line: contrary to the OP, electricity use is growing much faster than 300 TWh per year, RE growth is still far short of what is needed to eliminate increases in fossil-fueled generation, and wind and solar installations are making up less than half the annual growth in the power sector. That’s what the data show.

26

JD 11.02.17 at 4:31 am

Of course, all of this assumes that … Trump doesn’t manage to destroy the planet through nuclear war.

Whatever its other drawbacks, nuclear war would have a very salutary effect on global warming. Which make Trump sound like a Bond villain.

Hmmm….

27

Hidari 11.02.17 at 7:11 am

All this presupposes that the coal stats from China can be trusted, which, of course, they can’t be.

https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/8780-China-s-coal-consumption-and-CO2-emissions-What-do-we-really-know-

https://carboncounter.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/can-we-trust-chinese-coal-statistics-why-we-should-not-believe-peak-coal-has-arrived-2/

The only (literally the only) stats which matter are those concerning temperature. And these keep on going relentlessly up. All the rest is (literally) smoke. And mirrors.

28

John Quiggin 11.02.17 at 7:37 am

@27 There are plenty of problems with Chinese statistics, but it’s unhelpful to quote articles from 2015 in response to evidence about 2016.

More importantly, you say “The only (literally the only) stats which matter are those concerning temperature.” This is obviously wrong. Even if the world succeeds in limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, there will still be warming for decades into the future, that is temperature statistics will “keep on going relentlessly up”. For that matter, this would be true if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow. What matters is whether we can limit cumulative emissions to a total consistent with stabilization and what matters for that, statistically, is data on emissions.

29

Omega Centauri 11.02.17 at 5:55 pm

Hidari @27. It would be more proper to say the only thing that matters is the atmospheric load of longterm greenhouse gases (usually expressed as Co2 equivalent).
These are affected by seasonal cycles, and stuff like ENSO (ElNino LaNina ), so its error prone
to draw conclusions from short term (a few years or less) changes. Temperature is subject to a lot of other variations, and leads to periods of false complacency (like the whole hiatus thing). Of course there are types of geoengineering which could reduce temperature but not CO2, and few would argue that these would make a good longterm solution.

30

John Quiggin 11.02.17 at 9:19 pm

A minor point is that additions to electricity generation from year to year are a lagging indicator relative to capacity additions. Capacity installed in December 2016 counts fully towards the total capacity addition for that year but doesn’t affect total generation much.

31

John Quiggin 11.02.17 at 9:23 pm

@29 The CO2 load is also very noisy, with lots of seasonal variation. In the long run, a change in the atmospheric fraction (the proportion of emissions that stay in the atmosphere) will be important, if it happens, but we have no clear evidence on this.

What matters, from year to year, is emissions. More importantly, the only thing we as humans can control is emissions.

32

Dipper 11.02.17 at 9:39 pm

@ Hidari The only (literally the only) stats which matter are those concerning temperature. I disagree. Whereas the temperature trend is debatable, the CO2 trend is massive and unambiguous. Everything we know tells us additional CO2 will heat up the planet.

33

Mario 11.02.17 at 9:50 pm

John Quiggin,

More importantly, the only thing we as humans can control is emissions.

On CO2 that’s probably largely true, with a caveat. On methane it’s probably true now, but wrong once we cross the tipping point. The caveat with CO2 is that we as humans can control it about as effectively as my neighbor from a few years ago could control his alcohol consumption.

I’m sorry but I don’t see us getting clean from fossil fuels. I would like to apologize for this very pessimistic take, but it is exactly what I think. And it bothers me, a lot.

34

Will Boisvert 11.02.17 at 11:03 pm

“So, any future growth in renewables must come directly at the expense of existing fossil fuel generation which in practice will almost always mean coal.”

Accounting aside, I’m not sure there’s a simple correspondence between more RE and less coal.

Wind and solar tend to preferentially displace gas rather than coal. Gas is usually higher in the merit order than coal because it (usually) has a higher marginal cost, so it gets displaced first by intermittents. Gas is also better at balancing surge-and-slump intermittent output because it can ramp up and down faster than coal. Managers who have to keep the grid stable will prefer to have wind and solar abate gas, which can ramp back up fast when they conk out, while coal runs steadily in baseload.

Also, energy policy is influenced by the Green doctrine of shuttering nuclear before FF, so long-term increases in RE output will often displace nuclear, with no emissions benefit.

These dynamics are playing out in Germany, for example. From 2010 to 2016, RE output rose 84 TWh while total electricity output stayed pretty flat, rising just 16 TWh. Unfortunately, most of the increased RE output just offset the loss of low-carbon nuclear power, which fell 56 TWh. Some of it offset gas output, which fell 8.8 TWh. Coal-fired generation declined just 1.5 TWh. In Germany, new RE is displacing nuclear and gas, not coal.

The same story will unfold with France’s new energy plan. Most of the increase in RE output over the next decade will be offset by the closure of nuclear plants, with no effect on emissions.

In California, much of the planned increase in RE over the next decade will be offset by the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which was explicitly justified as a measure to make room on the grid for mandated wind and solar. New wind and solar will increasingly displace hydro in the state, with no emissions benefit. Indeed, new wind and solar will start to displace itself thanks to rising curtailments of overproduction.

Greens take “reduce carbon emissions as fast as possible” to mean “build wind and solar as fast as possible,” but those goals are actually distinct—and sometimes contradictory.

35

Kiwanda 11.03.17 at 12:42 am

Will Boisvert:

Bottom line: contrary to the OP, electricity use is growing much faster than 300 TWh per year, RE growth is still far short of what is needed to eliminate increases in fossil-fueled generation, and wind and solar installations are making up less than half the annual growth in the power sector. That’s what the data show.

As I note just above, the BP data says that if wind and solar grow in the next five years as fast as they did 2010-2016 (and probably did 2016-2017), then their annual growth will match the growth in 2015. And in another year, their growth will match the overall growth of that year (about 16% more than 2015, assuming 2.2% overall growth).

Moreover, assuming existing experience curves hold out for those six-ten years,, building new wind and solar will be cheaper than running existing fossil fuel plants, in for example Germany and China (slide 94).

Of course, operating existing nuclear plants is often already uneconomical, requiring billions in subsidies in Illinois and New York, to say nothing of building new ones.

36

Area Man 11.03.17 at 2:23 am

Wind and solar tend to preferentially displace gas rather than coal.

Where do you get that from? Gas is currently rapidly displacing coal, so logically it would make no sense for RE to displace gas before coal. Gas is cheaper than coal and has the benefit of being dispatchable and cleaner. The market share of gas and RE are both increasing at coal’s expense.

37

Will Boisvert 11.03.17 at 6:54 pm

@ Kiwanda 24, 35

–Kiwanda, per your 24 you seem to be arguing that wind and solar installations contributed just 35 percent of the yearly growth in global electricity generation from 2015 to 2016, and that it will take 5-6 more years before they will be contributing all of the yearly growth in electricity. (That time frame is optimistic, but let’s go with it.) Your numbers thus contradict the OP’s strong claim, complete with numerical estimates, that wind and solar are *currently* contributing *all* of the yearly increase in electricity generation, and they support my contention that WS are currently contributing less than half that increase and that “it’s going to be a while” before they can contribute all of it.

So you and I are in complete agreement in contradicting JQ on this point. You should take it up with him, not me.

–“Moreover, assuming existing experience curves hold out for those six-ten years,, building new wind and solar will be cheaper than running existing fossil fuel plants, in for exampleGermany and China (slide 94).”

The slide you reference forecasts wind and solar becoming cheaper in about 2030, not now nor in 6 years. Again, this lends no support to the OP’s claims and is consistent with my own analysis.

–“Of course, operating existing nuclear plants is often already uneconomical, requiring billions in subsidies in Illinois and New York, to say nothing of building new ones.”

RE plants also get subsidies. Don’t see your point here.

38

Will Boisvert 11.03.17 at 7:25 pm

@ Area Man 36,

“Gas is currently rapidly displacing coal, so logically it would make no sense for RE to displace gas before coal. Gas is cheaper than coal and has the benefit of being dispatchable and cleaner. The market share of gas and RE are both increasing at coal’s expense.”

Gas is cheaper than coal in the US, where the bulk of gas-to-coal conversion has taken place, because of the glut of fracked gas. Coal is cheaper than gas in most of the world, so lower in the merit order. And yes, gas is a bit more “dispatchable” than coal because it can turn on and off, ramp up and down, faster than coal. That’s why gas (and hydro) are the preferred balancers for chaotic wind and solar, which require backup that can ramp down during surges and then ramp back up during slumps, faster than coal usually can. When gas and hydro are balancing wind and solar, the net impact on production is that WS displaces the gas and hydro, not baseload coal generation. (Read up on it.)

RE will likely displace *some* coal, but it won’t be the TWh-for-Twh substitution that the OP suggested with its strong claim that “any future growth in renewables must come directly at the expense of existing fossil fuel generation which in practice will almost always mean coal.” That claim just isn’t tenable. The German stats prove beyond a doubt that RE is preferentially displacing nuclear and gas there, not coal. France has almost no coal on its grid, so new RE has nothing to displace *except* nuclear, hydro and a little gas, which is explicitly the plan. California also doesn’t have much coal on its grid, so its burgeoning RE as a matter of simple math will mostly displace nuclear, hydro and gas, which again is the explicit plan.

39

Kiwanda 11.04.17 at 12:04 am

Will Boisvert:

Your numbers thus contradict the OP’s strong claim, complete with numerical estimates, that wind and solar are *currently* contributing *all* of the yearly increase in electricity generation, and they support my contention that WS are currently contributing less than half that increase and that “it’s going to be a while” before they can contribute all of it.

I’m glad we’re in violent agreement, although your “RE growth is still far short of what is needed” and “it’s going to be a while” suggest to me a time frame longer than the six years supported by the BP stats.

I read the intersection points on that slide 94 graph as occurring around 2028, in the ballpark of my “six-ten years”. Again, that’s when *new* wind and solar are cheaper than *already built* coal, in places where coal still plays a major role. The next slide shows peak coal in China occurring in about 2030, which is too long, but at least on the horizon.

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