Bloomberg News: Renewables Overtake Fossil Fuels

Eric Zuesse

On April 14th, Tom Randall of Bloomberg News bannered “Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables,” and reported that:

“The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there’s no going back. The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels, according to an analysis presented Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York. The shift will continue to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added.”

The article’s graphs of electrical generation show that, from now till at least 2030, solar will soar around five-fold, and wind will double, while coal and also oil will shrink about threefold. These are the major reasons why fossil fuels will shrink and be increasingly replaced by renewables. By 2030, the renewably-produced electrical power is projected to be 4.36 times as much as the fossil-fuel-produced electrical power. In 2015, that ratio is only 1.49. In 2010, it was only .89 (more electrical power was fossil-fuel than renewable). So, the renewable/fossil ratio is soaring, and is expected to continue soaring in the coming decades.

These figures are for electrical generation, not for automobile and other gasoline-powered vehicular usages of energy; but, from now on forward, any switch away from gasoline and toward electrically powered vehicles will be increasingly toward renewable energy sources.

Furthermore, regarding the vehicular switch to electrically powered cars, another Bloomberg article the same day headlines “The $5 Billion Race to Build a Better Battery,” and reports that Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Bill Joy, and Nick and Joby Pritzker, are among the many venture capitalists who are investing heavily in new battery-technologies that hold real promise of making electrical vehicles overtake gasoline-powered ones.

The combination of these two factors — plunging costs for renewables, plus increasing efficiencies in battery-technologies — suggests that perhaps the possibility to prevent runaway global warming is more realistic than had previously been expected (though not less than hoped).


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

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  • kimyo

    Ten Reasons Intermittent Renewables (Wind and Solar PV) are a Problem

    I tend to use an even wider boundary approach: what happens to world CO2 emissions when we ramp up intermittent renewables? As far as I can tell, it tends to raise CO2 emissions. One way this happens is by ramping up China’s economy, through the additional business it generates in the making of wind turbines, solar panels, and the mining of rare earth minerals used in these devices. The benefit China gets from its renewable sales is leveraged several times, as it allows the country to build new homes, roads, and schools, and businesses to service the new manufacturing. In China, the vast majority of manufacturing is with coal.

    let’s focus on what we can do, realistically, today, with the technology at hand. if you examine the situation, there is only one option: conservation. we each need to use less than 1/4 of the fossil fuels we’ve been accustomed to using. even this approach will result in our children having to do without.

    this is never discussed on cnbc, because it means that we have to stop building houses and strip malls, not only in california or las vegas, but everywhere. ie: a no growth model. not high speed rail (it’s super green!). not desalinization (highly energy intensive, not to mention the waste – 1 gallon lost for each 1 produced).

    ps: mr. zuesse, please don’t try to tar ms. tverberg with your various slurs and strawmen. her work is meaningful on a level yours could never possibly approach.

  • Gotham Knight

    Eric doesn’t know about cycles. We are entering an age of global cooling he’ll no doubt take credit for, having written about runaway global warming, just as those who collect carbon taxes will save the earth from runaway global warming because they tax. The energy output of the sun is cyclical. This particular cycle peaked around 2000. Unfortunately, the trend toward global cooling will have some bad consequences, far worse than warming, but those wedded to global warming will never be unfaithful to their beliefs, even in the face of facts.

    • Tyler

      Global cooling – Is global warming still happening?

      • Gotham Knight

        Don’t you find it interesting how both sides of the argument have just as much science and numbers to support their theories, but only one side gives the government enormous new powers to tax and regulate. Gee, I wonder why anthropogenic global warming is so popular among the ruling class who refuse to fund and threaten with defunding any institution that dares question the theory.

        • Tyler

          NASA: January To March 2015 Was The Hottest 3-Month Start To Any Year On Record Globally

          • kimyo

            Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past

            However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

            “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.

            The effects of snow-free winter in Britain are already becoming apparent. This year, for the first time ever, Hamleys, Britain’s biggest toyshop, had no sledges on display in its Regent Street store. “It was a bit of a first,” a spokesperson said.

  • MarilynDHunter

    “A fraudulent conspiracy motivated by money, perpetrated on the gullible” – which side of the debate does this best describe?

    The US Navy is well aware of the geopolitical implications of sea level rise and loss of arctic ice –

    Is the US Navy part of the conspiracy? Are they using the science?

    Climate change denial is always uninformed, and often insincere.

    You might want to google these articles for more information:

    Astroturfing the climate wars: five ways to spot a troll

    Astroturfing works, and it’s a major challenge to climate change

    Astroturfing, what it is and why it matters

    • kimyo

      Climate change denial is always uninformed, and often insincere.

      actually, you’ll find, as with atheists who consistently test higher re: bible facts than christians, that sceptics are much more informed about climate issues than adherents to the agw theory.

      for instance, how long is the pause? what is the source for the model inputs on fossil fuel consumption? has carbon dioxide exceeded 400ppm previously in history?

  • kimyo

    among the many venture capitalists who are investing heavily in new battery-technologies that hold real promise of making electrical vehicles overtake gasoline-powered ones.

    bill gates and elon musk already have plenty of fawning publicists, i’m sure they don’t need another.

    the real deal on electric cars: Switching to an electric car isn’t always good for the environment

    Yet new research suggests that even if every driver in Canada made the switch, from gas to electric, the total emissions might not actually go down. It all has to do with where the power that fuels those electric cars comes from. Depending on where in the country you live, going electric might not be as green as you think.