Although "renewable" energy is growing faster than ever before, it is neither carbon neutral, "clean" nor sustainable. We need to transform into low-energy societies that meet human - not corporate - needs.
Renewable energy is growing faster than ever before. Sure, some countries are lagging behind, but others are setting widely praised records.
Germany has installed over 24,000 wind turbines and 1.4 million solar panels, and renewables generate 31 percent of the country's electricity on average - and as much as 74 percent on particularly windy or sunny days. According to the German government, 371,400 jobs have been created by renewable energy. Norway generates 99 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. Denmark already generates 43 percent of electricity from renewables and aims to phase out fossil fuel burning by 2050.
Many view such news as rays of hope in a rapidly destabilizing climate. We all need some good news - but is renewables expansion really the good news people like to think? Can we really put our hopes for stabilizing the climate into trying to simply replace the energy sources in a growth-focused economic and social model that was built on fossil fuels? Or do we need a far more fundamental transition towards a low-energy economy and society?
Here's the first problem with celebratory headlines over renewables: Record renewable energy hasn't stopped record fossil fuel burning, including record levels of coal burning. Coal use is growing so fast that the International Energy Authority expects it to surpass oil as the world's top energy source by 2017.