Study carried out by Princeton and published in Nature, and based on data from 1,400 weather stations in North-America, Europe and Asia. One cause is temperature and increased pressure.
Renewable share electricity production:
Note that northern countries with low population density and high mountains and hence high proportion of hydro-power, like Norway, Sweden and Canada, have even higher shares. But we are for the moment more interested in those countries with high shares of wind and solar.
2018 was an extremely good year for the Dutch economy with nearly 3% growth. Yet the total energy consumption declined with 1.5%. Total share fossil fuel decreased with 2%.
Natural gas: 40%
The rest is renewables, nuclear, biomass, electricity import. Holland is (not yet) a big player in renewable energy.
The most important message is, that regardless of the energy source, it is possible to have substantial economic growth and still use less energy.
[nu.nl] – Energieverbruik gedaald in 2018, vooral minder steenkool verbruikt
[source] An area in the Sahara with the size of Bulgaria, covered with solar panels and all the world’s present day energy needs would be covered.
The Sahara is associated with strong solar irradiation. How much Sahara surface area would be required to power the entire world with pv-solar? Mehran Moalem, PhD, UC Berkeley, Professor, expert on Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Fuel Cycle, did the calculation.
How much energy is the world consuming anyway?
The total world energy usage (coal+oil+hydroelectric+nuclear+renewable) in 2015 was 13,000 Million Ton Oil Equivalent (13,000 MTOE) – see World Energy Consumption & Stats. This translates to 17.3 TW continuous power.
OK, so how much of the Sahara would be required to generate these 17.3 TW? Surprisingly little:
Now, if we cover an area of the Earth 335 kilometers by 335 kilometers with solar panels, even with moderate efficiencies achievable easily today, it will provide more than 17,4 TW power. This area is 43,000 square miles.
For Europeans, that’s 111,370 km2 or relatively small European countries like Bulgaria, Iceland or Greece. For Americans, think Tennessee or Virginia.
Note that the European installed base grew from 45 GW in 2010 towards 120 GW in 2017. That’s 85 GW in 7 years. Linear extrapolation to 2030 would imply an extra 134 GW. In reality it could be (much) more as the price of solar panels is expected to further reduce significantly, think $100/m2 soon. Let’s say 300 GW nameplate in total in 2030, which would be equivalent to 30 GW average power 24/7/365 (see explanation of “nameplate power” in the previous post). From this it is obvious that wind power will be dominant in Europe for years to come.
[jrc.ec.europa.eu] – EU PV Status Report 2017
A annual electricity generation of 3000 TWh is equivalent of 342 GW continuous average power.