The World Is Mostly Run On Fossil Fuels (81%)

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The world is mostly run on fossil fuels (81%). Nuclear makes up 5%, with 14% from renewables. Solar panels and wind turbines contribute 0.8%.

When you hear 14% renewables, you will likely think 'wow, things are going pretty well with the switch to renewables'. But these renewables are not the ones you hear about. The biggest contributor is humanity's oldest fuel – wood. 

4.91% is today known as biomass as we also burn food (ethanol) and energy forest (trees or woody shrubs) in the rich world. This is, for instance, the American forests, cut down and shipped across the Atlantic to be burnt in European power plants to be called green and CO₂ neutral – of course, that is only true when the new woods have grown up in 50-100 years.

4.93% of the use takes place in the poor world where people still use wood (dung, cardboard etc.) to cook and keep warm. This leads to terrible indoor air pollution – it is actually the world's deadliest environmental problem, killing some 4.3 million people each year. We should definitely hope the poor will have to use *less* polluting wood in the future.

The other main contributor of renewables is 2.5% hydropower. In total, that makes up 12.4%. The last 1.6% comes mostly from geothermal energy (0.57%) and wind turbines (0.61%) along with solar heaters in China, tidal power etc. (0.26%) and solar panels (0.19%).

Contrary to the weight of news stories on how solar and wind is taking over the world, solar panels and wind turbines really make up a very small part of the global energy mix. (I started out coloring solar panels yellow, but the thin sliver at the top became invisible.)

These stats come from the latest global energy overview from the most respected institution, the International Energy Agency (the OECD for energy) in its World Energy Outlook 2017from November 2017. Unfortunately, the full report and much of the statistics is not free. Moreover, the split into individual renewables like wind, solar PV etc. is not made public (though the IEA model keeps track of them all). 

The data from the newest estimates of power demand for 2016 (p648). It also shows the split into individual renewables obtained from a data request to IEA 

Power Generation Analysis, World Energy Outlook: Energy Demand Division, Directorate of Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks.

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