Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

The Folly of Renewable Energy

(Roman Genn)
The West needs to go nuclear

If you judge by the images used to illustrate reports about energy, the world now runs mainly on wind and solar power. It comes as a shock to look up the numbers. In 2019 wind and solar between them supplied just 1.5 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Hydro supplied 2.6 percent, nuclear 1.7 percent, and all the rest — 94 percent — came from burning things: coal, oil, gas, wood, and biofuels.

As Mark Twain might say, reports of an energy transition away from combustion as a source of energy are greatly exaggerated. True, carbon-dioxide emissions are rising more slowly …

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This article appears as “Going Nuclear” in the December 17, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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Matt Ridley — Mr. Ridley is the author of How Innovation Works, and Why It Flourishes in Freedom, published in 2020. He is a biologist, newspaper columnist, and member of the House of Lords in the U.K.

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