The previous post had a simple graph showing electricity generation in four sample countries. Two of the countries had chosen to embrace nuclear energy, while two are known as the champions of renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass, and wave power).
The statistics can be used to tell different stories. To illustrate, here’s a graph of “clean” electricity production in five countries (Finland was added due to local interest). The thick, solid line indicates all clean electricity production, i.e. hydro, nuclear, wind, solar, biomass, wave and so forth. The dotted, thin line indicates everything in the above except nuclear.
Interesting, isn’t it?
The next graph is even more so. This time, the solid lines indicate again all clean electricity sources, but the thin line includes only “renewables,” i.e. non-hydro renewable electricity generation.
If one wants to tell a story where Germany and Denmark are clean energy champions, one can use the thick solid lines. If the narrative is the growth rate of non-hydro renewables, one can start the graph from about 1990 and ignore the solid lines altogether.
If one wants to tell which countries and which methods have been the most successful in decarbonising electricity, the lower figure may tell a more truthful story.
The data is from IEA statistics at World Bank website. For telling your own stories, here’s the collated data in .xls format.
IEA energy statistics & graphs from 5 sample countries, 1960-2010.
I take absolutely no responsibility for the data: it should be correct, but check the originals before making yourself a fool :).
I noted that the last graph is erranous at least in case of Finland concerning renewable energy (non-hydro) before 1990. Why ? Pulp industry has produced a lot renewable CHP energy by burning black liquer and other wood industry waste wood.
Good question; frankly, I don’t know the answer. The graph is directly from data provided by the IEA and I have not (at least not purposefully) altered it in any way.
If you have any ideas or better data, shoot – I suspect the reason here could be with changes in how statistics are compiled, or it could be that the wood industry pre-1990 (or so) used much of its energy directly in its own processes and therefore it wasn’t included in national electricity statistics. But these are just guesses, nothing more – I don’t know, for example, when the wood industry CHP plants were built or connected to the national grid.