Are renewable installations stalling? (Weekly pic)

How soon are renewables peaking?
Renewable energy installations (nameplate capacity) have recently even declined, long before the build rates required for decarbonization have been achieved. Particularly worrying is the sharp decline in solar PV installations in Europe. Sources: EPIA & GWEC.

The previous weekly pic introduced the calculations of Loftus et al. (2015), which show that decarbonization scenarios that do not allow nuclear energy require stunning, unprecedented rates of new clean energy installations. Even though the popular press is today awash with news of renewable energy achievements, these required rates are still far away. More ominously, there are some indications that the rate of increase in renewable energy installations may be slowing down, perhaps even stalling.

The most prominent example comes from solar PV installations in Europe. Compared to peak in 2011, new solar PV generation capacity is being installed far slower. Subsidies have dried up, and although installations still continue, the major problem is that the rate is far from what’s required for decarbonizing the economy. Furthermore, as solar panels (and other energy generators) inevitably age and need to be replaced, the rate of new capacity addition soon needs to increase even further, simply to replace retiring generation.

It is more than likely that the installation rates will increase from the lows presented here. Nevertheless, one needs to remember the previous post’s message: if we want to decarbonize without nuclear power, we need absolutely huge increases from current installation rates. It bodes ill for the prospects of these rates being achieved that these hiccups occur already, when solar and wind together still provide less energy to the world than nuclear power alone.

Nevertheless, some members of our society still think the required increases in renewable installations and energy savings rates are done deal, and that we can forget about nuclear power entirely. These graphs point out again that this stance is a huge gamble with the climate.

This series of posts introduces graphics from our book Climate Gamble: Is Anti-Nuclear Activism Endangering Our Future? The book is now available on Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback formats; see also our crowdfunding initiative which aims to deliver a copy of the book to COP21 climate delegates in Paris this December.

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