Expectation versus reality
One reason for this is that at the macro level, and reflected by media hype, the world is expecting two major energy technologies to make a rapid and significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions: electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy. Both can make a contribution, but their uptake and penetration progress has been slow. Few realize that EVs were first introduced more than 100 years ago, but lost out to the internal combustion engine. They were reintroduced again within the past two decades, but still represent less than 1 percent of the world’s total vehicle fleet.
The slow take-up of EVs is due to multiple economic and technical challenges. These include the absence of a widespread charging infrastructure and battery-related problems. More importantly, the fuel mix for most electricity used to charge EVs is not sufficiently clean. In addition, cost is prohibitive, making EVs widely unaffordable. These issues need to be addressed on an incremental and priority basis.
Meanwhile, modern renewables, namely solar and wind, produce about 10 percent of the world’s electricity today. If we look at the world’s total primary energy consumption, their share is about 13.5 percent. These sources still lack large-scale commercial storage to address the intermittent nature of renewables, as well as grid stability requirements.