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Despite Continued Massive Investment, Renewables ‘Not Even Warm’ Yet

International Energy Agency (IEA) figures for total investment in various energy “sources” in 2023 as a whole, confirm continued massive global overinvestment in “renewable” or “clean” energy, which means largely “interruptible” forms of energy. For the years 2019-23 inclusive, total global investment in “clean” energy sources and technologies was $7.2 trillion, while investment in “fossil fuel” sources and technologies, despite a very substantial recovery from depressed pre-2020 levels, was just $3.85 trillion: By 2023 taken alone, the ratio had become greater than 2:1 in favor of “clean energy.” “Clean” energy means, for the IEA, nuclear and hydropower as well as solar, wind and biomass.

Comparing the global investments made over 2019-23 in the generation/production of energy only (leaving aside discovery, recovery, refinement, acquisition, etc.), investment in “renewables” generation was $2.75 trillion; in fossil fuel generation, $550 billion; and in nuclear generation; $300 billion. So, renewables investment over those five years was more than triple the others combined. In fact, in 2023 global investment in solar energy production alone was greater than investment in oil-fired energy production.

Despite this massive and growing investment dominance, in 2023 the share of all renewables in global electricity generation was just over 5 petawatt-hours out of 30 petawatt hours, or 17%; and renewables share in total energy production was far less, about 6%.

Typically for the world, Texas’s ERCOT power system came through the frigid winter storm this week without blackouts, with natural gas-fired generation providing 84.5% of all electric power and nuclear plants 7.5% during the worst of the freeze on the morning of Jan. 15. Solar power’s share was zero, and Texas’s huge fleet of wind farms produced 7%.

The Canadian Province of Alberta showed the same during the previous week, when the Polar Vortex freeze was most intense there (Jan. 12-13) and temperatures were much colder than the lowest reached in Texas. According to a detailed explanatory article on PenguinEmpireReports Substack site on Jan. 14, “Freezing To Fight Global Warming,” on the night of Jan. 12-13, with the temperature down to −45°C (−49°F), the Alberta Electricity System Operator had gas turbines producing 84% of their rated capacity; coal, 99% of its capacity; hydropower at 35%; solar at zero, and wind farms at 0.3% of their rated capacity in the province.