7 charts show new renewables outpacing rising demand for first time. Renewables. 

by Simon Evans.
For the first time ever, investment in new renewables was more than enough to cover rising global electricity demand in 2015. That’s according to the first World Energy Investment report, published by the International Energy Agency (IEA). While fossil fuels still dominate energy supplies, the IEA says changing investment flows point towards a “reorientation of the energy system”.

Carbon Brief has seven charts showing why the IEA thinks an energy shift is underway. Energy investment World energy investment amounted to $1.8tn in 2015, the IEA says, equivalent to 2.4% of global GDP. Around half went towards fossil fuel extraction and distribution, mainly for oil and gas.

Renewables accounted for 17% of the total, around $300bn. The vast majority of this was in the electricity sector, where nearly 70% of investment in power stations went towards renewables. Global energy investment in 2015, by sector. Source: World Energy Investment 2016, IEA.

Oil slide

Investment in energy was down 8% year-on-year in 2015 (around $150bn), largely because of falling investment in oil and gas. Soft demand and Saudi Arabia’s determination to squeeze competitors has created a prolonged period of cheap oil that has decimated incomes.

Reductions have been particularly steep in North America, the IEA says, with investment halving in the past two years. The smaller companies that dominate the US shale industry have been particularly hard-hit by the falling oil price, with scores of firms filing for bankruptcy. Upstream oil and gas investment in 2015, by region. Source: World Energy Investment 2016, IEA.

Falling costs

The Saudi strategy has only been partially successful. Some two-thirds of the fall in oil and gas investment has been absorbed by cost reductions, particularly in the shale sector. Upstream oil and gas costs fell 15% in 2015, the IEA says.

These recent oil and gas cost reductions have been easily outpaced by those for new energy technologies. Costs for onshore wind are down by nearly 40% since 2008, solar by more than 80%, LEDs more than 90% and grid-scale batteries by 70%.

The IEA says renewable costs will continue to fall, while the reverse will be true for oil and gas: “IEA medium-term analyses foresee lower costs in renewables, lighting and electricity storage and eventually modest cost increases in upstream oil and gas.” Energy cost developments 2008-2015, by technology. Source: World Energy Investment 2016, IEA.

Power shift

The large clean energy cost reductions are behind a continuing shift in the power sector, where 70% of investment in generating assets goes to renewables and fossil fuel investment is in decline.

Renewable power investment held steady at around $290bn in 2015, the IEA says, yet cost reductions mean more capacity could be bought for the money. Solar investment was lower than  2011 in dollar terms, but 60% more capacity was added.

Last year, rising renewable additions combined with weakening power demand growth in a landmark way. The IEA says:

“For the first time, investment in renewables-based capacity generates enough power to cover global electricity demand growth in 2015.”

New renewables commissioned in 2015 have the capacity to generate 350 terawatt hours (TWh), against an increase in demand of less than 250TWh. This means all other capacity brought online in 2015 was effectively surplus to requirements.

(It’s worth adding a couple of qualifiers: first, 40% of investment was to replace ageing assets; second, renewables often generate power intermittently rather than on demand).

See charts and read more here…

Source: 7 charts show new renewables outpacing rising demand for first time

World Bank Flash: Turn Down the Heat II: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience

BackgroundTurn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience builds on a World Bank report released late last year, which warned the world would warm by 4 degrees Celsius 4°C or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if we did not take concerted action now, with dire consequences. This new report looks at the likely impacts of present day, 2°C and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia:Under current levels of warming, significant climate and development impacts are already being felt.  With temperatures at 0.8°C 1.4 ºF above pre-industrial levels, the last decade has seen extreme weather events resulting in widespread human suffering and increasing economic damage across all regions. Sea levels have been rising more rapidly than previously projected. A rise of as much as 50 cm by the 2050s may already be unavoidable as a result of past emissions. Impacts could be felt much earlier. A rise of 15 cm, coupled with more intense cyclones, threatens to inundate much of Bangkok by the 2030s.A warming of 2°C 3.6 °F above pre-industrial levels, may be reached in 20 to 30 years. In Sub-Saharan Africa, food shortages will become more common. In South Asia, shifting rain patterns will leave some areas under water and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation or drinking. In South East Asia, the degradation and loss of reefs would diminish tourism, reduce fish stocks, and leave coastal communities and cities more vulnerable to increasingly violent storms and landslides.As warming goes from 2ºC 3.6ºF to 4°C 7.2 ºF, multiple threats of more extreme heat waves, rising sea–levels, more severe storms, droughts and floods will have severe implications for the poorest and most vulnerable. In Sub-Saharan Africa, by the 2030s droughts and heat will leave 40% of the land now growing maize unable to support the crop. Rising temperatures could cause major loss of savanna grasslands threatening pastoral livelihoods. In South Asia, a potential change in the regularity and impact of the monsoon could precipitate a major crisis in the region. Events like the devastating Pakistan floods of 2010, which affected more than 20 million people, could become common place. Across South East Asia, rural livelihoods are faced with mounting pressures as sea levels rise, tropical cyclones increase in intensity and important marine ecosystem services are lost as warming approaches 4°C. Across all regions, the growing movement of impacted communities into cities could lead to higher numbers of people in slums and other informal settlements being exposed to heat waves, flooding, mudslides and diseases.

via World Bank Flash: Turn Down the Heat II: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience.

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