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Energy Landscape Now Sees More Diversified Energy Mix, Says World Energy Council

The new World Energy Resources report from the World Energy Council has concluded that the energy landscape has changed dramatically over recent years, with most countries achieving a more diversified energy mix.

wec-2“The past 15 years have seen unprecedented change in the consumption of energy resources,” the authors of the report begin, highlighting specifically high investment in the renewable energies market, new capacity, and high growth rates in developing countries each representing a key factor in this “unprecedented” shift. The global energy market has seen both a growth in unconventional resources and improvements in technology development for all forms of energy resources — both fossil fuels and renewable energies. As a result we have witnessed falling prices and the unforeseen decoupling of economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking at the launch of the report in Istanbul today, Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer, Executive Chair, World Energy Resources, said:

“Our report finds that the diversification of technologies and resources, now applied in the energy sector, creates many opportunities, but the enlarged complexity also leads to increased challenges. With the existing level of volatility, relying on solid facts and data as basis for strategic decision making by the relevant stakeholders, such as governments, international organisations and companies, is becoming even more important than in the past.

“The total global renewable energy based power capacity has doubled within the last ten years, from 1,037 GW in 2006 to 1,985 GW by the end of the year 2015. This has been caused by a record deployment in particular of wind and solar capacity for power generation. Wind energy capacity increased globally from 74 GW in 2006 to 432 GW in 2015 (420 GW onshore and 12 GW offshore), solar energy within the same time horizon from 6 GW to 227 GW. Global hydropower capacity grew by 35 % since 2006, from 893 GW to 1,209 GW in 2015, of which 154 GW is pumped storage.”


The key findings from the new report mirror much of what we have seen already over the past 18 months. “Global installed capacity for solar-powered electricity has seen an exponential growth,” the authors write, with solar installing 277 GW by the end of 2015 and producing 1% of all electricity around the globe. Similarly, by the end of 2015 the global installed storage capacity reached 146 GW across 944 projects.

The report also highlighted the increasing prominence of the Waste-to-Energy (WtE) market, which despite accounting for less than 6% of the total waste management market, was nevertheless valued at approximately $25 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach $36 billion by 2020. Geothermal output was estimated to be at around 75 TWh for heat and 75 TWh for power, but is concentrated currently on geological plate boundaries.

As always, hydropower remains the leading renewable source for all electricity generation globally, supplying 71% of all renewable electricity at the end of 2015 — with, according to the World Energy Council, its “undeveloped potential” sitting at approximately 10,000 TWh per year worldwide. Global hydropower capacity increased by more than 30% between 2007 and 2015, reaching a total of 1,209 GW by the end of 2015.

Global wind power generation capacity reached 432 GW in 2015, accounting for around 7% of the total global power generation capacity, made up of 420 GW of onshore wind and 12 GW of offshore wind. A massive 63 GW of new wind capacity was added in 2015, with total investment in the global wind sector reaching $109 billion in 2015.

“Renewables such as solar, wind and hydropower now account for about 30% of the total installed power generating capacity and 23% of total global electricity production and will continue to grow,” said Christoph Frei, Secretary General, World Energy Council.

“However, more progress is urgently needed to scale up action on energy efficiency, electric storage and carbon capture and storage. With stagnating growth potential in the oil sector and with coal likely to be of little importance by 2060, there will be a shift in the discussion from stranded assets, predominantly enterprise owned, to stranded resources in oil and coal, predominantly state owned. This has the potential to cause significant stress to the current global economic and geopolitical equilibrium and will need to be part of a broadened carbon and climate dialogue.”

However, despite the existing and significant transition currently underway in the energy sector, the rate of improvements towards cleaner energy is much slower than is required to meet the existing carbon emissions targets set by countries, and collectively. Similarly, public acceptance remains a challenge, with an increasing attitude of “Not in my back yard” hampering the development of energy sources.

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