100% WWS scenario together with Ethiopia. With his help 100% WWS is bound to become famous in Hollywood.

In an earlier post I wondered what does Stanford professor Mark Jacobson have against Finland? His 100% renewables energy plan seemed like a raw deal. I wanted to look a bit deeper and focus on things that, in my opinion, matter. In particular, I wished to get a feeling for the underlying human vision in Jacobson’s scenarios. For this reason, I am not going to focus now on insolation numbers, wind speeds, their distributions, technologies, and other such techno/science thingys. I will focus here on energy access and what 100% WWS (wind, water, and sunlight) visions seem to imply for different countries. I will also briefly comment on few other societal implications Jacobson’s plan might have. You can have a look at the actual “plan” here and the associated Excel file (it is huge and almost impenetrable) is behind this link.

Jacobson et al. make a big deal about how their plan employs more people than current energy system. I already pointed out in the earlier post that jobs are a cost and not a benefit. For the wellbeing in the end it is the productivity that matters. Be that as it may, if you have a look at the Table 9 of the manuscript, something becomes clear. Not all countries will in fact have a positive “net earnings from jobs”.  As a rule this number is positive for developed countries and many countries developing fast (like China), but many countries are “losing out”. Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Ethiopia,  Mozambique… to name a few. If I have to guess why jobs were being lost in poor countries, I suspect it is due to Jacobson eliminating all jobs in bioenergy. (I share his dislike for bioenergy.) Even though his plan implies lower productivity than current rich world energy system, it is nevertheless more productive than the one many poor countries have today.

Jacobson et al. explain: “Although all countries together are expected to gain jobs, some countries, particularly those that currently extract significant fossil fuels (e.g., Kuwait, Iraq, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Venezuela, and Yemen) may experience net job loss in the energy production sector.” It seems that Jacobson et al. wished to frame this as a punishment for fossil fuel producers and for this narrative to make any sense, silence was required on all those undeveloped countries not producing fossil fuels whose “net earnings from jobs” was negative. And let me be clear. I don’t think productivity improvements in the energy sector is a bad thing. Obsessing over number of jobs in a sector is silly, but this is one of the main selling points Jacobson and others drafting renewables scenarios (like Greenpeace and RES lobby groups) have decided to use. They had to make a choice as to their target audience. Since the job number is positive in the rich world and that is where their target audience lives, it must be sold as a good thing. Too bad for the non-target audience.

Let us see how energy demand per capita develops in different countries. I have no time to go through all the entries and Jacobson’s use of Excel files makes this a tedious process. I choose few countries, some rich, some poor, some in Asia, some in Europe etc. and just give the results for them. (Notice that figures might have slight uncertainty in them, since I suspect Jacobson’s “end use demand” means something slightly different from the IEA figures for today, which he also kindly provides. So never mind about the last decimal point, it is the general trends that matter here.) The next figure compares consumption today to that in 2050 according to Jacobson et al. results.

Change in per capita energy demand by 2050

Change in per capita energy demand by 2050

So Chinese are granted more energy per capita. Others (including India!) will have to do with their current consumption or reduce it.



Amusingly some very poor African countries, such as Ethiopia, will see their per capita energy demand collapse.

Since GDP is supposed to grow strongest in poor countries, as the next figure demonstrates, Jacobson also demands that energy efficiency improvements are most dramatic there.


Energy consumption/GDP today and 2050. (Inverse of energy intensity)

Ethiopian energy “efficiency” today is poor presumably because of all that small scale burning, but by 2050 they will be among the most efficient ones. An improvement by a factor of 12. Since efficiency improvements typically require more capital, it is great that poor have loads of money.

How do capital requirements compare with todays GDP? Next figure shows that while Jacobson surely hates Finland more than Sweden, it could have been worse.

Capital expenditure on generators relative to current GDP

Capital expenditure on generators relative to current GDP

Finally we get to the important stuff, namely how he feels about Finns relative to others. Based on Jacobson’s figures we can compare how much energy a Finn uses compared to foreigners. Below I show it today and at 2050. Blue bar is the reality today and the red bar is what Jacobson has in mind. If red bar is lower than the blue bar, then he wants to improve the lot of that country relative to Finns (in terms of energy access).

Per capita consumption relative to Finns. Today (left) and 2050 (right). Relatively low consumptions implies high values.

Per capita consumption relative to Finns. Today (left) and 2050 (right). Relatively low consumptions implies high values.

As is clear we are more or less holding to our relative position with respect to rich countries. We are losing out to Chinese though. We can quantify the degree of hatred by comparing the heights of the bars (desire/reality). Next figure shows the result.

Graph of hate relative to Finland. If larger than one Mark wants worse for them than he wants for Finns.

Graph of hate relative to Finland as measured from energy consumption. If larger than one Mark wants worse for them than he wants for Finns.

Finally, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. While he surely has a grudge against us, he hates Ethiopians even more.

5th of January 2016 Finns celebrate in Helsinki (-20 degrees Celcius) as they realize Mark hates Ethiopians even more. Just kidding… they celebrate Junior ice hockey world championship. Rest of the nation strangely cares more about that than energy discussions.