Future Trends in Carbon-Free Energy Consumption in the US, Europe and China

At The Breakthrough Institute (where FYI I am a Senior Fellow) last December, Arthur Yip has produced a very nice analysis. The graph above shows the implications of various policy commitments for future trends in the proportion of energy consumption from carbon-free sources for the US, Europe and China. Such an analysis requires making a range of assumptions, which obviously could be made differently (e.g., Europe will be 11% nuclear in 2030).

The graph above shows that the US, Europe and China have expressed an intention to put into place policies that will support a continuation of a long-term trend in the decarbonization of energy consumption. However, even if these policies are 100% successfully implemented, they will only decrease the world’s reliance on fossil fuels by a small amount in 2030 (FYI, today’s proportion is about 87%, where it has been for about the past 20 years).

“Success” at the upcoming Paris negotiations has come to mean locking in this general approach. While people will no doubt continue to enjoy debating about and witnessing to climate policies, the fact is, at the meta-level, that debate is pretty much over. Climate policy has entered its middle aged years.

Yip’s full analysis, including a focus on China, goes into a lot more detail. Have a look here.

2 thoughts on “Future Trends in Carbon-Free Energy Consumption in the US, Europe and China

  1. Nice analysis.

    I would posit that very few projections look at what happens if/when GenIV nuclear becomes a reality

    China’s fuel manufacturing for the HTR-PM was just certified in December. The Chinese HTR-PM is well on it’s way to being operational on schedule in 2017 and could be a game change…emphasis on ‘could be’.


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