[Metaculus] Will solar power on Earth dominate renewable energy consumption before 2031?
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Will solar power on Earth dominate renewable energy consumption before 2031?

Resolves the same as the original on Metaculus.


Resolution criteria

This question will resolve as Yes if, in any year from 2023 to 2030, inclusive, the total global consumption of primary energy from solar power on Earth exceeds the consumption of primary energy from all other individual renewable energy sources on Earth for the year (meaning solar must be the largest source of renewable energy, it need not exceed the sum of all other renewables). For the purposes of this question, renewables include, but are not limited to, solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and bioenergy. Resolution will be determined according to data published in the Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy.


This market is managed by a bot. Once the original question resolves this market should automatically resolve the next time the bot is run. If the original resolved more than a day ago and this question is still open, ping @jskf. I might resolve this N/A if I find out it's a duplicate of an existing question within three days of market creation.

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the linked EIS Review of world energy doesn't list the consumption by source for wind or solar

@will58c3 the linked graph in the manifold market says it's based on that report/data but I can't find it anywhere

@will58c3 I did find gross production, not consumption yet. OurWorldInData says they do "major processing" on the EIS data, not sure what that entails. The subtitle says "Primary energy is shown based on the substitution method, which takes account of inefficiencies in energy production from fossil fuels.", maybe they take the production and apply a factor to it?

predicts NO

I got a response from an admin there:

@jskf good question, I've looked into it and consumption is computed using the substitution method, which OWID describes here. Basically renewables are often reported in electricity outputs, while fossil fuels are reported as primary energy, or the amount generated when they are burned. But there is thermal loss, so you can convert back and forth by using a thermal efficiency factor.

I haven't looked in the Statistical Review report, but if you download their data you can find consumption reported in exajoules on the "Primary Energy - Cons by fuel" tab for fossil fuels + renewables, and an individual breakdown of renewables is on the renewables tabs (for example solar is on "Solar Consumption - EJ").

To convert from exajoules to terawatt-hours (TWh), on the "approximate conversion factors" tab the Statistical Review says the approximate conversion factor is 278 terawatt-hours per one exajoule. However it looks like OWID is using a more precise conversion factor of about 277.78. If you use that conversion factor it looks like it matches up nicely for the 2022 numbers in the OWID graph.

Hopefully that helps, let me know if you have any additional questions!

Consumption or production? Title says consumption but Plants dominate renewable energy consumption by photosynthesis so already true for all past years and likely to remain that way for a long time. However, the description make clear it is human energy production or use.

The description remains unclear, I think.

"The total global consumption of primary energy from solar power on Earth"

Seems like we have to work out (useful not wasted?) consumption not production. Are there different amounts wasted from different renewable sources? I assume yes (power down wind turbines if not needed but generally keep solar running) but am not sure what numbers should be used if this is what the question is asking.

"meaning solar must be the largest source of renewable energy" This seems to indicate it is just production not usage of production, or is implying that production numbers can be used as consumption.

@jskf might be useful to say if it is just production numbers or if they need adjusting to consumption, how that should be done.

predicts NO

@ChristopherRandles I think they talk about consumption to take into account losses in production. If you burn some amount of fuel, most of the released energy is not captured in a useful form. So if you capture 38% of released energy, "consumption" from that source will be 0.38 times the production from that source, in some sense. Not super confident about this. You can read more about the methodology at the source Metaculus lists for resolution: https://www.energyinst.org/statistical-review/about

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