As US Dithers, World Charges Ahead to Renewables

September 5, 2017

India charging ahead on renewables. Vying with China for global leadership in the growth industry of the new century. Meanwhile, Washington looks longingly to the 19th century.
Watch for new video on this topic coming very soon.

Meanwhile, Denmark has decided to offload oil interests, and begin using current oil revenues from the North Sea to accelerate its renewable transition.


In another sign that the petroleum era is drawing to a close, Denmark is selling off its last oil company with barely a peep.

Once considered a strategic asset, on a par with national carriers or shipyards, the oil and gas division of A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S is being bought by French giant Total SA. The $7.45 billion deal is expected to be completed by 2018, pending regulatory approval.

Coming just three months after the sale of Dong Energy’s North Sea oil and gas production to German-based Ineos AG, Maersk’s move to offload its oil division has been welcomed by the government and trade unions alike. Even the nationalist Danish People’s Party, which supports the government in parliament, didn’t object.

The irony is that Denmark will need the income from oil and gas to finance its green transition and meet a pledge to stop using fossil fuels by 2050. That will mean keeping up production from the North Sea fields, which Total has promised to do.

“The more money they make on the North Sea, the more money there will be for us to spend on the green transition,’’ Energy Minister Lars Christian Lilleholt said in an interview in Copenhagen.


According to calculations by the Finance and Economy ministries, tax revenue from North Sea oil and gas has now fallen to a tenth of what it was at its height, only a decade ago.

The receipts from North Sea oil used to average about 8 billion kroner ($1.3 billion) per year. That would pay for about 1 gigawatt of new onshore wind capacity, which is sufficient to supply power to some 170,000 homes, based on a recent deal in Norway, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Evans.

Dong, a former state utility whose name is an acronym for Danish Oil and Natural Gas, is using at least some of the money it made from its divestment to build more offshore wind parks, expanding its dominance as the world’s biggest operator of sea-based wind turbines.

Denmark, which is also home to Vestas Wind Systems A/S (a company that produces more turbines than any other manufacturer on the planet), now gets more than 40 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources, according to 2015 data, and aims to reach more than 50 percent by 2020. The country’s green sector already employs about 67,000 people, double the number of workers in its North Sea industry.




10 Responses to “As US Dithers, World Charges Ahead to Renewables”

  1. Karen Wachs Says:

    Hello from Suttons Bay, MI. I would be interested in your opinion of an article I just received from the president of Cherryland Electric Coop. I am a Cherryland customer but I have been getting all my household’s electricity for the last 3 years from my rooftop solar panels – year-round. I take offense to Mr Anderson’s low opinion of solar energy and his disturbingly high opinion of nuclear energy mentioned in the Comments section in his responses to Kevin Green and Elizabeth Paxson. Just curious about your thoughts. Karen Wachs


    • greenman3610 Says:

      this is standard Republican double speak. Coal is uneconomical, plain and simple. Renewables are coming in much
      cheaper and more reliable than thought possible just a few years ago. Nuclear isn’t happening without massive subsidies.
      Republicans, who claim support for nascent industries like solar and battery storage is “picking winners” – are talking about
      out and out subsidies to the dying coal industry now – (picking losers?)
      If this guy wants to support nuclear, he should come out and advocate the trillion dollar down payment on a
      a first wave of nukes that couldn’t come on line for at least 15 years.
      in the meantime, check out the newest video just posted, as to what renewables are doing around the world.
      It’s understandable that people are having a hard time keeping up, as the rate of change right now is
      unprecedented in global history. but you could recommend he follow this blog as a start.

  2. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    Charging ahead with renewable, India is vying with China for global leadership in the growth industry of the new century. Meanwhile, Washington (and New Zealand) look longingly to the 19th century.

  3. indy222 Says:

    It’s a start. To put India’s figures into perspective…. consider the growth in the total integrated global spending over all time, inflation adjusted. Recently that’s been growing at 2.2% per year. Call it “Wealth”, as Prof Tim Garrett does. Global Wealth, data shows, is proportional to the current energy consumption rate, in theory and in fact. Spending expands civilization and requires energy to support that growth and maintenance. So, at 2.2% growth per year – that requires 1,000 megawatts of new carbon-free power generation every single day just to keep current CO2 emissions from going up further than they already are (and not counting indirect emissions caused by humans, such as from melting permafrost). So India’s 5 GW of new solar and 5 GW of new wind capacity together for all of 2016, only wins 10 days of holding global CO2 emissions constant. Of course, the US and Europe and China are doing some as well, but the point is, we have to do MUCH better than these breathless back-slapping self-congratulations from the India press. Goes a long way in explaining why atmospheric CO2 levels keep accelerating upwards.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Certainly we do have to move faster–extrapolating from a Joe Romm post of a few years ago we need to build 6 or more times faster than we are to avoid utter cataclysm. But I have to disagree with your thinking about wealth. Don’t want to call it horse and buggy thinking, but “decoupling” economic production from energy use, and energy use from carbon production, have been going on for a while. (The term decoupling seems off to me; actual decoupling would leave the things unmoored; this is just changing the ratio somewhat.)

      And I think the only true wealth consists of physically and psychologically healthy people in a thriving biosphere. Anything else is just a manifestation of psychologically dysfunctional objectification and exploitation.

      From the article:
      “The irony is that Denmark will need the income from oil and gas to finance its green transition and meet a pledge to stop using fossil fuels by 2050.”

      Irony is a word we use when we don’t understand enough about a system for what’s happening to make complete sense. This does make sense. Of course we have to spend the last of our fossil fuel budget, in terms of fuel, money, infrastructure, time, expertise, labor, etc. on making the transition. It’s why we should have started prioritizing the transition in 1973.

  4. indy222 Says:

    The thermodynamic treatment of civilization is only valid when you look at the entire closed energy/economic system – meaning, globally. It’s very misleading to look at individual country statistics and then extrapolate that such trends are therefore possible for the globe. Again, we outsource so much of our manufacturing (so does Denmark), thereby Asia gets the energy accounting that goes with that manufacturing while we get the luxuries and the goods. When you look at the GLOBE, then you indeed see that global (ONLY global) spending integrated over all time, increases at the same rate as current energy consumption GLOBALLY.

    “Wealth” is perhaps an imperfect term, but I use it only because it’s the term Tim Garrett uses in his series of papers on this.

    If energy consumption is growing, that means CO2 emissions from the fossil fuel generation portion of that energy is also growing. It’s extremely difficult to keep up global economic growth and also reduce CO2 emissions – as should be obvious to anyone who follows the Keeling Curve. The agendas of the people who run our governments and CEO’s do not want you to recognize this fact, and never, ever make mention of it, quite the contrary – it’s “have cake/eat too”. But they (the CEO’s, not their clueless average RedState voter lackeys) know it well, and it accounts for their fierce war and its awful back-alley knife-fight tactics.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Of course it’s possible to increase both economic production and energy use without increasing carbon emissions. Unless we can balance increase in energy use by the poor with decline in energy use by the rich, that’s exactly what we have to do, globally, by replacing fossil fuels with renewables, efficiency, conservation, and wiser lives. (It’s also possible to increase carbon emissions without increasing energy use, as we do when we turn to increasingly far, deep, difficult, low-EROEI fossil and fissile fuels like offshore oil, tar sands, MTR, and so on.

      But we’d be even smarter to question the supposed need for and type of economic growth. Allowing the rich to hoard an ever-increasing share of the country’s and world’s income and wealth, skewing the stats into meaning almost the opposite of what they seem, isn’t useful but it not only passes for an economic system it’s the religion of hundreds of millions.

      Of course we can extrapolate from one country or region to the world; we just need to keep track of the flows across the country’s or region’s borders.

      The Keeling curve, like everything else including global warming, has many forces acting on it; it’s a mistake to look at it simplistically.

      And the same with oligarchs. Your theory isn’t what makes oligarchs do what they do, in fact it’s partly the opposite. Mostly it’s the disease of civilization, what we might call Wetiko, for lack of a more official diagnosis.

  5. indy222 Says:

    Sounds like you’re buying into the hypster’s who show flat energy use but rising GDP for the U.S. for the past decade or two, and make no discussion of international trade’s effect on the numbers involved. You are not understanding the issue. When we off-shore manufacturing, then Asia shows the CO2 and the energy use on their accounts, goods flow into the US, and only money flows out. The savings that happen thanks to the hard work and effort of scientists and engineers? What do we do with it? We SPEND it! And all spending incurs the necessity of more energy to facilitate and maintain the results of that spending. That’s not just theory, it’s observed fact. Your comment “Of course we can extrapolate from one country or region to the world…” makes no sense. It is precisely by looking at the globe that you “keep track of the flows across the region’s borders”, and this is precisely the data which shows that the time-integrated inflation-adjusted total global spending in the past is proportional to the present global energy consumption rate.

    Is it physically possible to increase wealth but not increase spending and hence energy use? Yes, it’s PHYSICALLY possible – but this comment reminds me of the old physics joke which starts with “Assume a spherical cow….” In your case “Assume a human animal which is fundamentally different than the human animal demonstrated by all of our history…” . Humans take savings and they SPEND it, and thereby negate the energy savings. We spend more than we have, impoverishing our retirement – most Americans have less than $30,000 saved for retirement. We spend money we don’t have, incurring private debt which is now 370% of GDP and rising exponentially. China is doing exactly the same thing and their debt is also about 350% of their GDP. We bankrupt not only ourselves, we bankrupt our children’s lives and their children’s children’s lives.

    If you don’t like Garrett’s term “Wealth”, I’ll use TIGIAS= time-integrated global inflation-adjusted spending. TIGIAS is proportional to current energy consumption, and has been growing at 2.2%/year although perhaps a bit less in the past few years. That is what primary energy consumption has been rising at as well, and you should know that China has been caught cheating on their emissions figures, just as they were caught dramatically cheating on their fishing catches earlier. There is only one curve that doesn’t lie – the Keeling Curve – and it captures the essence of what drives climate. It’s been accelerating, and has the fastest rise rate ever in each of the past 3 years, despite the claims of slower emissions. El Nino is only a small part of that, and in fact ended nearly 2 years ago. Reducing atmospheric CO2 is far more difficult than you are led to believe, in a world addicted by Human Nature to endless economic growth (and if you don’t like that, try convincing the 3-4 billion people who live on less than $3.50/day wages that they should end economic growth for the sake of the planet’s future).

    I don’t know what relevance your last point was about oligarchs.

    Anyway, i could fill up far more space than anyone has the patience to read through here – look at the .pdf I have on this subject for my students

  6. J4Zonian Says:

    “The savings that happen thanks to the hard work and effort of scientists …We SPEND it! And all spending incurs the necessity of more energy to facilitate and maintain the results of that spending. That’s not just theory, it’s observed fact.”

    It’s theory based on anecdotal misinterpretation. So is your observation of the effects on savings by the predation of the oligarchy in the US. Not a permanent or universal condition and the reasons for it become clear with emotionally-uncluttered non-dogmatic investigation.

    You’re assuming “human nature” is the problem, which is a common mistake. It’s a complex psycho-cultural civilizational affliction that’s the problem (in fact only a small fraction of civilizated humanity is causing the problem), and while it will be extremely difficult to fix that, it’s possible, and we don’t have to fix it now, only fix the logistical (ie, GHG) problems and survive long enough to fix the deeper problem over time. There have been many, many cultures who didn’t spend more than they had, who didn’t objectify and exploit nature. They’ve almost all been destroyed by the Wetiko-infected, which thus now occupies most of the world, but the problem is clearly restricted to a few historical cultural threads.

    Whether we’ll succeed is unknown, but there’s been no time in human history when it’s been more likely we can change the direction of civilization by effectively treating the disease that’s both a cause and result of that civilization. The task ahead is flabbergasting; even most climate activists don’t comprehend the scale. And we’ve shown little sign we’re changing fast enough or have any chance of succeeding. But one could have said that about the allies any time from the early 1930s until maybe the battles of Midway and Kursk, mid 1942 in the Pacific and mid ’43 in Europe. Many times before that the western world, for a long time oblivious to the full danger or horror they were facing, was about to lose to an alliance of terrifying militaristic fascists. Our task is much bigger industrially and deeper and more difficult psychologically.

    You said CEOs, I say oligarchs. The richest 7-10% of people on Earth emit half of human GHGs; the poorest 6 billion emit only about 20%. And since you know already, I don’t have to remind you, as I do most people, that the rich mostly decide where and how the rest live, they control even more than those percentages suggest. Most people on Earth live either as indefinitely sustainable small farmers or people who have essentially no effect on climate or any other global ecological problem. That means the problem is far less broad than it seems, and both simpler and more difficult to solve. Since it’s only a small percentage who’s decisions we have to change, but they’re the richest and most powerful on Earth who have removed themselves from feedback systems that would clue them in on what damage they’re causing. It’s the Mayans all over again.

    It’s not about me “not liking” the term “wealth” it’s about me having a different and what I believe is a deeper and more connected understanding of it than the capitalist-civilizational Wetiko culture imbues its subjects with. It’s the difference between the diseased objectifying view (I and It) and a healthier, mutually subjective or I and Thou relationship.

    I only read a couple of pages of your pdf; I’ll have to read more but I do know that every single person I know of who tries to reduce human complexity to lower terms rather than try to understand them from higher or deeper order models has been woefully wrong; simplistifying everything rather than understanding and clarifying anything never leads to anything but exactly what you’re doing–misinterpreting everything with motivated reasoning, leaping to conclusions and other fallacies.

  7. Even downunder notwithstanding the Murdoch Media and their puppet Federal Government.

    We have State Governments leading the way, in this case with a $5Mill grant to a local EV Delivery Truck manufacturer
    Just got a whats happening in this electorate flyer from my local state MP (politician), highlighting the State Labor Governments support for EV. Electric trucks with Government support, they want this state to be the Australian leader in EV manufacture

    Google search brings up this.

    Already delivered first of 9 trucks in this order for a major trucking company, I have noted EV delivery Vans with Sea branding proudly signed as All Electric Vehicle without realizing Local builder

    They have several models on the road and also hold patents for their drive technology, their EV4, EV10, EV14. model;s are on the road and in select truck dealers. Numeric denotes tonnage.

    To coin a phrase the wheels are turning

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