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How much electricity do solar and wind make on a global scale? Answer: “Not much”

Simple numbers are hard to get, so when Anton Lang pointed me at the EIA site (U.S. Energy Information Administration), I wanted to give everyone the straight answer to the question: just how much electricity do renewables make on a global scale? The EIA has the only database in the world with a this much accuracy.

The answer is that 80% of our electricity comes from the fossil fuels and nuclear that the Greens despise. Hydroelectricity, with all its pluses and minuses, produces a serious 16% of the total. But all the vanity renewables bundled together make about 3.5% of the total.

Wind power is a major global industry but it’s only making in the order of 1.4% of total electricity. And solar is so pathetically low that it needs to be bundled with “tidal and wave” power to even rate 0.1% (after rounding up).

For all the fuss and money, if the world’s solar powered units all broke tonight, it would not dent global electricity production a jot.

No one connected to a grid would notice.


Global electricity generation by source 2009, pie graph

These are the total global numbers from the US Energy Information Agency (The  EIA) for 2009.


 EIA Global Electricity production 2009 figures

Global Electricity Generation total




     Global Renewables total

  3,760 TWH



Hydroelectric Power  3145 TWH 16.5% [Link]
NON hydroelectric:
Biomass and Waste   271 TWH 1.4% [Link]
Global Wind power:   262 TWH 1.4% [Link]
Global Geothermal:    63 TWH 0.3% [Link]
Global Solar, Tide & Wave:    19 TWH 0.1% [Link]
NON hydroelectric total: 615 TWH 3.2% [link]

The figures here are the most recent whole year figures available. Some figures for 2010 are not listed on the EIA site yet. Even though there is more solar and wind power capacity now, China has been adding a 2GW coal fired station every week or two, so I’m led to believe that the latest pie graph would not look altogether different.


1,2,3, 100! Welcome to the world of Green accounting

The Australian Greens want to spend $10 billion more on “clean energy” and seriously talk about a “leap” to 100% renewables. “The Greens will also press the Australian Energy Market Operator to deliver a plan on how to provide 100 per cent renewable energy in the electricity system.”

Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, thinks that renewables are making electricity cheaper.

 15th June 2012 10:46 am:

“There are numerous myths around renewable energy pushed by the coal and gas industry and their champions in both of the old parties. One by one, these myths are being busted by reality, such as renewable energy actually putting downward pressure on electricity prices in parts of Europe and America, as well as in South Australia.”

Australian Greens “Energy policy”

Thanks to Anton Lang for the advice and information.


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