Polish power station Belchatow - Petr Štefek, This picture is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 licence.

Written by Tim Lash, Focus Fusion Society Contributor.

Mainstream media loves to feature stories of the newest green energy initiative. Rightly so as humanity tries to cope with climate change. Each new initiative and milestone creates additional hope for the future. However, more balanced reporting may indicate we need even more progress.

A National Observer article by Barry Saxifrage gives a more sober perspective. His article published last summer indicates fossil fuels still dominate globally. Mr. Saxifrage started with the well regarded “BP Statistical Review of World Energy.” Despite copious amounts of data contained in the report, it didn’t answer one simple question: how much fossil fuel is the world burning each year? So Mr. Saxifrage downloaded all the data available in the report and performed his own analysis.

His results showed that the global use of fossil fuel continues to grow. Despite new solar and wind generation, 2016 was a record year for fossil fuel consumption. Further, of the last 26 years studied, only during the economic crisis in 2009 was fossil fuel use less than the prior year. Alarmingly, the twenty-five year period from 1990 to 2015 saw fossil fuel portion of global energy move from 88% to 86%. Less than a 1% reduction per decade. I would call that pace glacial, but that metaphor may no longer be apt.

The details of his findings are similarly grim. While the data do show wind, hydro, solar and biomass energy use increasing, oil and gas use is increasing even faster! The report does show coal use decreasing in recent years. Unfortunately, the article presents four reasons to be skeptical of that reported downward coal trend.

    1) Data: Our atmosphere shows no sign of it.
    2) History: China has huge under-reporting problems.
    3) Human nature: Growing pressure to under-report and no way to catch it.
    4) Money: New coal plant construction is booming worldwide.

Mr. Saxifrage’s well researched and written report is worth the read. But it does highlight the need for more progress. More of the green initiatives so glowingly reported in the press. Certainly more money for fusion research. Fusion represents the ultimate green energy source and should be more vigorously pursued and funded.