World Electricity Sector: Worldwide investments in electricity generating plants and grid systems were about $10 trillion, of which about $6.52 trillion for electricity generating plants and about $3.46 trillion for grid system upgrades during the 2000 - 2016 period.


Worldwide investments in renewables electricity generating plants were about $4.2 trillion, of which about $3 trillion for electricity generating plants (wind, solar, hydro, bio, etc.) and $1.2 trillion for grid system upgrades during the 2000 - 2016 period.


As a result the percentage of renewables energy in the world electricity mix increased from 19% in 2000 to 24% in 2016, and world electricity CO2 emissions became just a small quantity less than what they would otherwise have been.


Investments in renewables electricity generating plants have averaged about $280 billion/y during the 2011 - 2016 period, which is insufficient to significantly decrease CO2 in the electrical sector. Cash-strapped governments have been decreasing/delaying renewables targets and decreasing subsidies, such as the US, Germany, India, the UK, France, Sweden, Romania, Poland, Spain, Bulgaria, etc. COP-21, despite dire warnings, likely will not reverse that trend.

The flattening of renewables investments due to decreasing subsidies is a worldwide phenomenon. See URL for complete analysis.

NOTE: Warren Buffett, considered one of the outstanding investors of all-time, has stated: “On wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit”. Buffett has investments in multiple wind sites, as do many other multi-billion dollar entities. Buffett and his cohorts hire tax accountants/lawyers to refine the subsidy-milking art form, as well as PR pros and RE lobbyists to continually increase the milking, via higher RPS targets and renewed subsidy periods.

World Primary Energy: Below are some definitions:


- Source energy is the energy taken from coal mines, oil and gas wells, and forests for conversion to electricity and heat.

- Primary energy = source energy - energy used for exploration, extraction, processing and transport of fuels (coal, oil, gas, biofuels, wastes, etc.) to users, such as fuel to electricity generating plants, or process plants, or buildings, or vehicles, etc. That means it has not been subjected to any conversion or transformation process.

- Consumed energy by users = net electricity generation (fed to grid) + electricity imports (fed to grid)  + fuel to process plants, or buildings, or vehicles, etc.

- Gross electricity generation = primary energy (fuel to power plants) x plant efficiency.

- Net electricity generation = gross generation - plant self-use = fed to grid. 

- Electricity at user meters = fed to grid - transmission & distribution losses.

Fossil Fuel Percentage Unchanged for Over 43 years: In the 1970s the big worry was fossil fuels would soon run out, and so we should “use them wisely”. But in the 1980s the risk changed to one of an overheating planet, and so we should not use them at all. This article shows unchanged fossil energy use from 1970 to 2013, a period of 43 years.


Fossil fuels have been 78 to 80 percent of total primary energy for at least 43 years, despite trillions of dollars having been spent on RE during the past 20 years. It appears there is plenty of FF for at least the next 80 to 100 years, albeit at higher prices.


FF CO2 emissions are only about 36.4 b Mt, FF/51.9 b Mt, all sources = 70% of all manmade emissions in 2016. Considering the extreme steepness of the FF CO2 reductions to stay within 2 C by 2100, which are impossible to implement (see graphs in URLs), even steeper reductions to reduce ALL manmade CO2 would be impossible as well, even if the entire world were to build only nuclear and hydro plants as of right now. See URLs.;

Modern Renewables Percentage: Here is a table of global primary energy consumption percentages (fuels, electricity, etc.) during the 2011 - 2015 period, which, indicates hardly any progress towards RE, despite worldwide investments in renewables of $250 - $300 billion in each of these 5 years. The fossil fuel percentage likely remained about the same in 2016 and 2017. Table 1 shows the data for the years 2011 - 2015, a 5-y period.

The total primary energy of modern renewables, including hydro, was 10.2%. The primary energy of wind + solar + bio + geo electricity was only 1.6% in 2015. That percentage likely was about 1.8% in 2016, for a growth rate 10.4%/y for the past 5 years.

If that growth rate were extended to 2030, that category would increased from 1.8% in 2016 to 7.2% in 2030, which would have a negligible impact on global temperatures.


Traditional Biomass Percentage: The total primary energy of traditional biomass, used primarily for cooking and heating in remote and rural areas of developing countries, accounted for about 9.1%. Google: “REN 21 Renewables 2017” report.














Fossil fuels












Total renewables






Modern renewables






- Biomass + geo + solar heat






- Hydro electricity






- Wind + solar + bio + geo electricity






- Biofuels, such as corn ethanol






Traditional biomass






German Electricity Consumption: Germany has a goal to have 80% of its final electricity consumption from RE sources by 2050, per Die Energiewende. The RE goals are:


Table 2/Year

% RE of final electricity consumption










Thus, about 20% of final electricity consumption could continue to be from fossil fuels, such as natural gas, in 2050. See table 2.


The RE percent of German final electricity consumption was 30.8%, 32.7%, and 35.1% in the first half of 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively. Final electricity consumption at user meters was 549.3 TWh in 2016. See URL.


Comparison of Denmark, Vermont and Germany: Germany's goals are much less extreme than Vermont’s goal of "90% RE of all primary energy by 2050".


It would be less onerous, if Vermont had a goal of “40% RE of all primary energy by 2050”.

Vermont had 16.5% RE of all primary energy in 2016. See table 3.


Germany and Denmark, both with high levels of RE electricity generation, charge most of the extra costs to households by means of various taxes, fees and surcharges. As the result, both have the highest household electric rates in Europe. France, 80% nuclear, has one of the lowest household rates, about 15 c/kWh. See table 3.



- Source energy is the energy taken from coalmines, oil and gas wells, and forests for conversion to electricity and heat.

- Primary energy = source energy - energy used for exploration, extraction, processing and transport of fuels (coal, oil, gas, biofuels, wastes, etc.) to users, such as fuel to electricity generating plants, process plants, buildings, vehicles, etc. That means it has not been subjected to any conversion or transformation process.


NOTE: The Energiewende taxes, fees and surcharges on electric bills of German households totaled about 8 x 24 billion euro = 192 billion euro during 8 years (2009 - 2016) and achieved ZERO CO2eq emission reduction.  See table 4.


German Primary Energy Consumption: Germany has a goal to have 60% of its primary energy consumption from RE sources by 2050, per the Energiewende. Table 3 shows the German goals and compares them with Denmark and Vermont.


Table 3/RE goals

Primary energy

 Elect’l prod’n

 Primary energy

Household elect rate


% of total

 % by 2050

% by 2050


Denmark 2015




30 eurocent/kWh

Vermont 2016




18 c/kWh

Germany 2016




29 eurocent/kWh


Denmark is in a unique situation with plentiful onshore and offshore winds, and large nearby grids to balance export excess electricity in case of stronger winds.


Vermont has no such wind uniqueness. Vermont has medium wind conditions and poor solar conditions, which means high wind and solar electricity costs/kWh, which would act as a wet blanket on the near-zero, real-growth Vermont Economy.


For Vermont to reach “90% RE of all primary energy by 2050”, the best approach would be to significantly increase purchases of hydro electricity from Hydro Quebec, which is steady, 24/7/365, low-cost (5 - 7 c/kWh, much less than wind and solar), and has very low CO2/kWh (less than wind and solar).


Germany Not Reaching CO2eq Goals: Germany’s CO2eq emissions (from all sources) are about the same as in 2009. As part of the Energiewende, Germany is aiming to have:


- 80% of its electricity from RE by 2050

- 60% of all primary energy from RE by 2050

- 80% less CO2eq than in 1990, by 2050


Germany will not meet its CO2eq reduction targets for 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050, unless it immediately starts phasing out all coal power plants, which produced 261.5/648.3 = 40.3% of net electricity generation in 2016.


Table 4/Year

All sources CO2eq

 Reduction below 1990

Electricity CO2eq


million Mt


million Mt

1990 actual




2009 actual




2016 actual




2020 target




2030 target




2040 target




2050 target





German Not Reaching Primary Energy Goals: Regarding the consumption of thermal energy for buildings, industry and commerce, and fuels for transportation, there has been so little change that the overall primary energy consumption from RE has increased from 14.7%, 14.8% and 15.2% in the first half of 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively.


Germany will not meet its goal of 18% RE of primary energy in 2020. See table 5.


Table 5/Year










2015, Jan-Jun





2016, Jan-Jun





2017, Jan-Jun





2020 goal





2050 goal






The electricity sector contributes only about 45% of Germany’s total emissions. The 100% decarbonizing of the electricity sector, which is already about 45% decarbonized (if we add nuclear) would reduce total emissions by about another 25%, not enough to achieve the targets in the above table. Yet Germany’s efforts to decrease emissions continue to concentrate on the electricity sector.






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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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