Friday, April 25, 2008

World energy generation

A few days ago I saw the film "An Inconvenient Truth" for a second time. It happened to be on one of the cable channels and it is pretty compelling so I ended up watching the whole thing again. A week or two before I had been investigating the state of renewable energy generation in Australia in the context of the rest of the world (Australia in the context of the rest of the world - who'd have thunked it) and I was a little surprised by how little of our electricity in Australia comes from PV (Photo-voltaic or solar) sources.

Let's start with the world (I like the sound of that).


So here's a pie chart (I don't think I have said that for at least a decade) that gives us a summary of the contributions of different forms of renewable energy generation to the world supply of renewable energy. However I have to say that renewable sources as a whole contribute only 18% of total energy generation, the rest coming from non-renewable sources.

So of the 18% of the world's energy that comes from renewable sources, about 63% is generated by hydro-electric schemes, about 17% is energy for heating produced by burning organic materials (biomass heat), for example, burning wood to heat homes, cook food and heat water. Biomass heat does not here include burning fossil fuels like coal because, of course, coal is considered a non-renewable resource, as are the other fossil fuels. Of the world's renewable energy generation, only about 7% comes from solar sources and of that only about half of one percent is electricity generated from solar. That really surprised me. And remember, the renewables constitute only about 18% of total energy generated. So about 1% of the 18% is solar technology being used for electricity generation.

So how does Australia compare with the rest of the world? You have no idea how hard it was to get a graphical breakdown of current energy generation in Australia. In the end I just gave up.

I can give you some statistics anyway. Currently 8% of Australian energy comes from renewable sources and this proportion is expected to remain relatively unchanged into the 2020s (source: ABARE report - "Australian Energy: National & State Projections to 2029-30"). The same statistic for the world average is 10% higher.

I found another nice graph which shows that Australians are responsible for more CO2 emissions per capita than any other country on earth:

I like this graph because it has so many colours in it.

That's enough ranting for today.

1 comment:

Richie said...
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