Have renewables taken over?

Most of us feel there has been a phenomenal deployment of solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy, and yet global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.⁠ We have absolutely been using far more renewable energy and seeing investment in this space is heartening. ⁠

But renewables still promote growth – they simply represent another method of extracting energy and whilst they’re obviously way better than fossil fuels and we need them, it isn’t going to be the answer to all our problems.⁠

As this graph shoes, renewables are also distributed very unevenly – across the world and across industries and contexts. Whilst they have clearly made a dent in how we produce common power (26% of power for the globe) and in some countries and households they are the primary energy source (which is amazing), they’re still minor in transport, heating and cooling which make up the bulk of our energy usage.⁠

Even within the renewable energy production itself hydropower makes up more than half the renewables total. We spend a lot of time in Cambodia and can tell you that hydropower has plenty of issues. Wind and solar make up only 8% combined.⁠

We’re not tilted toward fixing this yet either. We have a long way still to go just in electricity but for the other sectors there are far less policies and targets that countries have created to improve this position. In nearly all countries we need way better mandatory building codes, industrial energy use targets and efficiencies, higher fuel economy standards, and country targets for heating and cooling. Hint hint: carbon prices help here!⁠

Sources: Renewables Global Status Report (GSR), Vox