Disruptive Renewable Energy Technologies Are Impacting Leading Energy Priorities

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A new survey by the World Energy Council has found that technologies such as renewable energy and energy efficiency are having a disruptive impact on the top action priorities for energy leaders globally in 2017, and driving an increasing impetus towards a lower carbon future.

In its eighth year of publication, The World Energy Issues Monitor 2017: ‘Exposing the new energy realities’ was published this week by the World Energy Council, revealing that renewable energy ranked high in impact across every region identified in a survey of more than 1,200 energy leaders from 95 countries. This should come as no real surprise considering the rapid increase in renewable energy capacity. Figures published last month by the International Renewable Energy Agency showed that global cumulative renewable generation capacity reached 2,006 gigawatts (GW) in 2016, with a record 71 GW of new solar capacity, and a strong 51 GW for wind energy.

“Our survey shows that energy leaders face and acknowledge disruptive change,” said Dr Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the Council. “The Issues Monitor illustrates that innovation issues such as digitalisation, decentralisation, innovative market design or electric storage rapidly gain traction, while a more difficult growth context and new physical and digital risks are posing ever greater threats to the energy sector. Today defining the energy agenda globally, five years ago these issues were far from being a priority.”

Nevertheless, the single biggest issue identified by the survey was once again commodity prices, the “biggest single critical issue in terms of both high uncertainty and higher impact is commodity prices, an issue that has remained at the top of the global agenda for much of recent history.”

“Increased price volatility is a likely consequence of the peak in energy demand growth predicted by the latest World Energy Scenarios as International Oil Companies and National Oil Companies reduce their investment spending in anticipation of falling demand. Already, the IEA has warned of such price volatility as necessary investments fail to keep up with natural declines from existing oilfields and increasing demand in the run-up to the anticipated peak.”

The survey also revealed that, while climate concerns remain a “critical uncertainty,” global energy leaders nevertheless believe that this issue has less uncertainty and a lower impact than commodity prices. What is interesting is that, while on the surface this appears confusing and surprising, given the general certainty created by the Paris Agreement and the general global consensus on the issue, “this is a clear signal that energy leaders believe that the world is in an irrevocable path towards decarbonisation, one that is no longer entirely dependent on a global climate agreement.”

“The survey indeed illustrates the tensions that emerge against the context of the grand energy transition,” added Dr Frei. “The report does not find reasons why the current high dynamics in the energy sector would slow down. How the different regions decide to address the challenges and tensions identified in our report will define the agendas for the future.”

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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