Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Renewable energy exaggeration

Every year (or more often) we see these "feel good" renewable energy stories such as:

I'm not trying to single out Sky News, nor is it really "fake news".

Just somewhat optimistic exaggeration.

Forms of energy

In the UK, energy usage is approximately split three ways, for heating, transport and everything else.
Grid electricity is almost 100% "everything else". So today only about one third of our energy goes through the grid. 
Almost all of the heating and transport is fossil-fuel based, and that's changing only very slowly.
 So even if the grid was to be magically 100% carbon-free (or "renewable", but that's another story) then the other two-thirds would still be mostly fossil fuel.
As far as I can tell, people who haven't read David MacKay's book, usually forget this.
New houses are being built, mostly with gas boilers, which cannot run off renewable energy (NB: I know, biogas etc, is a thing, but not at scale).
 New vehicles are being built which cannot run off anything except fossil fuels.

Fake news or not?

No. The report is from National Grid, who don't monitor non-grid based energy. Heating was not mentioned at all, and transport was only mentioned for future planning.

What's the real story?

Really it should be "Fossil fuels still make 85% of UK's energy". (Or thereabouts)

This doesn't sound so encouraging.

But have a happy new year anyway.