renewable energy doesn’t offset fossil fuel use

At first glance I was very surprised and skeptical of the claims of this recent paper in Nature Climate Change.  Richard York did some simple regression modeling of renewable energy and total energy use in 132 countries and found that renewable energy did not explain very much of the variation in fossil fuel use.  If we think that we have a certain demand for energy, if we increase one source, others will decrease.  How can this not be the case?  Are we just using more energy from all sources?  Maybe it is a case of Jevons Paradox?  Am I missing some nuance of his modeling approach?

Commentary:

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n6/full/nclimate1552.html?WT.ec_id=NCLIMATE-201206

Research article:

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n6/full/nclimate1451.html?WT.ec_id=NCLIMATE-201206

This reminds me of an article from 2010 on how we use more electricity as light bulbs become more efficient:

http://eco-efficiency-action-project.com/2010/10/06/does-more-efficient-lighting-actually-increase-total-energy-consumption/

The recent article in Nature Climate Change:
York, R. (2012). Do alternative energy sources displace fossil fuels? Nature Climate Change, 2 (6), 441-443 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1451

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7 Responses to renewable energy doesn’t offset fossil fuel use

  1. What do you think to Rio + 20 themes? According to a lot of people Rio 20 did not achieve anything except political grandstanding. No agreements, no way forward, and some key nations did not even turn up. Sure it creates a focal point for issues and gets awareness out there, and nations will proceed as they are, some championing these causes, some not. As far as I am aware a global consensus is non-existant. Can’t wait until the next one when they all sit down to talk about what needs to happen, and the next, and the next. I think the whole approach may be wrong. A and B should simply be combined to say a ‘Sustainable Global Economy’ and definitions around it should include a ‘transition’ to a renewable energy global economy and maintenence of ecosystem function at a level to sustain human survial and wellbeing. For those interested in seeking a career in sustainable development, renewable energy or environment jobs pay a visit to http://www.envirocruit.com a reliable and regularly updated source for finding green jobs across the globe from some of the leading employers around the world.

  2. Pingback: reminding us about the Jevon’s Paradox | Energy and the Future

  3. Bocephus says:

    Fossil and natural gas are still cheaper than solar, wind etc.

  4. Blossom Thornbrugh says:

    Renewable energy is always the way to go because it is non polluting and of course does not get depleted. *

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  5. Pingback: The EIA Energy Outlook seriously bums me out | Energy and the Future

  6. Pingback: the rebound effect and how energy efficiency may not be the “low hanging fruit” | Energy and the Future

  7. The point is that renewable energy generation does not displace fossil fuel generation; in the global context, it simply adds to it. The global energy system is not static; it is growing. Renewable energy capacity growth can not keep pace with population growth and economic development goals, both of which call for increasing total global energy demand.

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