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The Future of Alternative Energy

I attended the Symposium of the Texas Journal of Oil, Gas and Energy Law at UT last week. One of the speakers was Giji M. John, Partner at Orrik, Houston, on renewable energy. Here are some takeaways. (click on images to enlarge.)

Renewable energy’s contribution to US energy consumption in 2018 was 11%. Of that 11%, wind energy contributed 21% and solar 6%. Remarkably, “wood” was 19% of that 11%. So solar and wind combined contributed 27% of 11%, or less than 3%, of energy consumed in the US.

US-energy-consumption-by-source-2018Texas is by far the leader in wind energy production, with 24,895 megawatts of installed capacity. The next state is California with 5,840 MW.

Wind-Energy-by-stateCalifornia is by far the leader in solar energy, with 25,232 MW of capacity. Texas is fourth with only 3,421 MW.

Solar-Energy-by-stateThe US Energy Information Administration projects that world net electricity generation will grow from 25 trillion kilowatt hours in 2018 to 45 trillion kwh in 2050. Note that, although the contribution from solar and wind will increase dramatically, contribution from “all other fuels” (read hydrocarbons) will also increase.World-electricity-consumptionWhile energy consumption in the US is now flat, the US is by far the largest consumer of energy per capita in the world.


China is the largest producer of both solar and wind energy and the fastest growing user. Solar:Solar-by-country

Wind:wind-by-countryIf the world is to reduce its consumption of hydrocarbon energy, there must be a much larger investment in alternative energy, or energy consumption must decline significantly, or both.

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