This graph reveals the world's sources of electricity

Originally published at: This graph reveals the world's sources of electricity | Boing Boing


I hope to see the day when we look back at coal-based energy much the same way we now think of whale-oil-based energy.

We know that our dependence on this energy source hurts the planet, represents a huge health and safety risk for the workers tasked with collecting it, and isn’t going to last that much longer at the rate we’ve been using it. Time to move on already.


I believe that’s been solar, for a number of years, now - at least when you’re building new infrastructure - but the problem is, everyone already has a bunch of coal power plants… (then there’s the “electricity at night” problem).


China is speed building a bunch of coal plants so that their 2030 baseline will be astronomical.


I just read a short story by Liu Cixin (of The Three-Body Problem fame) that was about an engineer trying to realize his dream of turning coal deposits into gas while still underground in order to make mining safer for workers. The story ends with a school field trip 100 years later, where the children learn about how the coal gas technology saved China at a time when the whole world was desperate for new energy sources after oil runs out. Not a great or optimistic vision of the future, but unlike some of his other stories the Chinese government probably had no problem with that message.


Why is hydroelectric grouped with non-renewables? I get that there are environmental concerns from the impact of dams, but hydro is renewable by definition.


It doesn’t really say.


Depends whose definition, apparently - because of the (sometimes quite significant) environmental issues (e.g. here on the West coast, we’re well on our way to wiping out the salmon), many US states and the federal government don’t classify it as “renewable.”


for a good reason — it’s the cheapest form of energy.

Um… as @Shuck said above, it’s not at all clear that this is true. And that calculus is always, in these discussions, based on ignoring externalities. Which is crap.


externalities? that’s just another word for profit! :sob:

between January and August of this year, the country experienced a record-breaking 23 separate disasters that contributed to the deaths of 253 people and each reported damages exceeding $1 billion with a total economic cost of $57.6 billion this year. This data does not include the costs associated with Hurricane Idalia

in theory, according to the eia, 20% of electricity here still comes from coal. ( same numbers probably, but different perspective )


This started becoming true in ~2015 in the most optimal locations, and has become true in more places over time. Now it’s pretty much true everywhere for new, utility-scale builds. It’ll be a while longer before that’s true with storage to make it dispatchable, but thankfully we’re now in a world where more and more places have enough renewables on the grid to need storage.

Also: world PV manufacturing is now around 900GW of panels annually, so around 200GW average production once you account for capacity factor. And that’s still growing pretty darn fast.

Coal is mostly the cheapest because the plants have mostly already been paid for and because the grid was designed and built with them in mind. Solar is cheapest because the fuel is free and the equipment is getting cheaper and cheaper. Solve for the future trajectory.


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