Solar and wind will provide only 2.9 percent of world’s energy by 2040

By Andrew Follett

Solar and wind power combined will generate less than 3 percent of the world’s energy needs by 2040, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Currently, wind and solar power generate 0.45 and 0.12 percent of the world’s energy. By 2040, that will only rise to 1.88 and 1.03 percent respectively.

The IEA projections for 2040 assume that every country complies with the Paris global warming agreement. The U.S. has already withdrawn from the agreement and several other countries are unlikely to fully comply, so the IEA’s graph is almost certainly an overestimate.

A report by energy giant Exxon Mobil published in January came to a similar conclusion, noting that wind, solar and biofuels combined will only generate a mere 4 percent of the world’s energy in 2040.

The fastest growing source of energy in 2040 will be natural gas, which will meet 25 percent of all demand and the largest source will be oil, which will account for about 32 percent of total demand.

Nuclear power will provide about 7 percent of all energy. Nuclear and renewable energy will both grow relatively fast in percentage terms, but won’t come close to matching the growth volume or rate of natural gas. The remaining 12 percent of demand will be met by a combination of hydropower, burning wood, geothermal and other comparatively minor power sources.

In 2016, the U.S. generated 0.9 percent of all electricity with solar power and 5.6 percent with wind, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA.)

Currently, burning wood produces almost three times as much energy than solar or wind power worldwide.

Burning wood provides 9 percent of the world’s energy, according to the United Nations’ Food And Agricultural Organization.  More than 2 billion people depend on wood energy for cooking and heating, especially in developing countries.

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