Each year, with mounting anticipation, we watch the BP statistical review. This is considered the premier data source of global energy consumption.
It rather bluntly puts the progress in renewables into perspective. Despite the huge developments in this field, their contribution made to primary energy productivity, that is the total energy used in the world, is still only 2.2%.
More disturbingly, renewables contribution to this has come off the exponential trend that it was once on and has become linear. At this new rate of penetration which has existed for three years, it will take 320 years to transform the fossil fuel led global economy to a renewable economy. However, the IPCC data that is driving the COP, shows we have only 9 years left to do so.
The transition from exponential penetration to linear penetration of primary energy productivity most likely reflects two factors:
It is difficult to continue with exponential growth of renewables due to physical factors such as logistics, material availability and manufacturing capability.
The early exponential growth reflects the picking of the low hanging fruit. Thus it is relatively easy to replace coal produced electricity with renewables, but is near impossible to replace the oil that is used for transportation, despite the progress being made on electrical cars.
The graph below shows the total anthroprogenic CO2 emissions stabilising at or near to 33.4 gigatonnes of emissions per year. As of 2011, the allowable carbon budget to avoid a 1.5degC temperature increase was 500 gigatonnes. This will now be exceeded by 2026.
Plotting the cumulative anthropogenic emissions against atmospheric CO2 yields an almost perfect correlation. Thus if emissions are stabilised, they still add cumulatively to the total atmospheric burden - even if CO2 emissions are halved, they still add cumulatively to the burden.
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