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Progress on global energy goals slow, but strong gains in countries show promise

MD Staff

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The world is not on track to meet the global energy targets for 2030 set as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, but real progress is being made in certain areas – particularly expansion of access to electricity in least developed countries, and industrial energy efficiency, according to a new report from five international agencies.

Renewable energy is making impressive gains in the electricity sector, although these are not being matched in transportation and heating – which together account for 80% of global energy consumption.

While global trends are disappointing, recent national experiences around the world offer encouraging signs. There is mounting evidence that with the right approaches and policies, countries can make substantial in clean energy and energy access, and improve the lives of millions of people.

Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report, launched at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum today, is the most comprehensive look available at the world’s progress towards the global energy targets on access to electricity, clean cooking, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The following are some of the main findings of the report. Findings are based official national-level data and measure global progress up to 2015 for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and 2016 for access to electricity and clean cooking.

Access to Electricity

  • One billion people – or 13% of the world’s population – still live without electricity. Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central and South Asia continue to be the areas of the world with the largest access deficits. Almost 87% of the world’s people without electricity live in rural areas.
  • The number of people gaining access to power has been accelerating since 2010, but needs to ramp up further to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030. If current trends continue, an estimated 674 million people will still live without electricity in 2030.
  • Some of the strongest gains were made in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, which all increased their electricity access rate by 3% or more annually between 2010 and 2016. Over the same period, India provided electricity to 30 million people annually, more than any other country. Sub-Saharan Africa’s electrification deficit has begun to fall in absolute terms for the first time.
  • Tens of millions of people now have access to electricity through solar home systems or connected to mini-grids. However, these remain concentrated in about a dozen pioneering countries where penetration of solar electricity can reach as much as 5-15% of the population.

Clean Cooking

  • Three billion people – or more than 40% of the world’s population – do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. Household air pollution from burning biomass for cooking and heating is responsible for some 4 million deaths a year, with women and children at the greatest risk.
  • Parts of Asia have seen access to clean cooking outpace growth in population. These positive outcomes were driven largely by widespread dissemination of LPG or piped natural gas. In India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam, the population with access to clean cooking technologies grew by more than 1% of their population annually.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, population growth in recent years has outstripped the number of people gaining access to clean cooking technologies by a ratio of four to one.
  • Clean cooking continues to lag the furthest behind of all the four energy targets, due to low consumer awareness, financing gaps, slow technological progress, and lack of infrastructure for fuel production and distribution. If the current trajectory continues, 2.3 billion people will continue to use traditional cooking methods in 2030.

Energy Efficiency

  • There is mounting evidence of the uncoupling of growth and energy use. Global gross domestic product (GDP) grew nearly twice as fast as primary energy supply in 2010-15. Economic growth outpaced growth in energy use in all regions, except for Western Asia, where GDP is heavily tied to energy-intensive industries, and in all income groups. However, progress continues to be slow in low income countries, where energy intensity is higher than the global average.
  • Globally, energy intensity – the ratio of energy used per unit of GDP – fell at an accelerating pace of 2.8% in 2015, the fastest decline since 2010.  This improved the average annual decline in energy intensity to 2.2 % for the period 2010-2015. However, performance still falls short of the 2.6% yearly decline needed to meet the SDG7 target of doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.
  • Improvement in industrial energy intensity, at 2.7% per annum since 2010, was particularly encouraging, as this is the largest energy consuming sector overall. Progress in the transport sector was more modest, especially for freight transportation, and is a particular challenge for high-income countries. In low and middle-income countries, the energy intensity of the residential sector has been increasing since 2010.
  • Six of the 20 countries that represent 80 percent of the world’s total primary energy supply, including Japan and the US, reduced their annual primary energy supply in 2010-15 while continuing to grow GDP – indicating a peak in energy use. Among the large energy-intensive developing economies, China and Indonesia stood out with annual improvement exceeding 3 percent.

Renewable Energy

  • As of 2015, the world obtained 17.5% of its total final energy consumption from renewable sources, of which 9.6% represents modern forms of renewable energy such as geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. The remainder is traditional uses of biomass (such as fuelwood and charcoal).
  • Based on current policies, the renewable share is expected to reach just 21% by 2030, with modern renewables growing to 15%, falling short of the substantial increase demanded by the SDG7 target.
  • Rapidly falling costs have allowed solar and wind to compete with conventional power generation sources in multiple regions, driving the growth in the share of renewables in electricity to 22.8% in 2015. But electricity accounted for only 20% of total final energy consumption that year, highlighting the need to accelerate progress in transport and heating.
  • The share of renewable energy in transport is rising quite rapidly, but from a very low base, amounting to only 2.8% in 2015. The use of renewable energy for heating purposes has barely increased in recent years and stood at 24.8% in 2015, of which one third was from modern uses.
  • Since 2010, China’s progress in renewable energy alone accounted for nearly 30% of absolute growth in renewable energy consumption globally in 2015. Brazil was the only country among the top 20 largest energy consumers to substantially exceed the global average renewable share in all end uses: electricity, transport and heating. The UK’s share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption grew by 1% annually on average since 2010 – more than five times the global average.

Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report is a joint effort of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“It is clear that the energy sector must be at the heart of any effort to lead the world on a more sustainable pathway,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). “There is an urgent need for action on all technologies, especially on renewables and energy efficiency, which are key for delivering on three critical goals – energy access, climate mitigation and lower air pollution. The IEA is committed to leading this agenda and working with counties around the world to support clean energy transitions.”

“Falling costs, technological improvements and enabling frameworks are fueling an unprecedented growth of renewable energy, which is expanding energy access, improving health outcomes, and helping to tackle climate change, while also creating jobs and powering sustainable economic growth,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “At the same time, this tracking report is an important signal that we must be more ambitious in harnessing the power of renewable energy to meet sustainable development and climate goals, and take more deliberate action to achieve a sustainable energy future.”

“This detailed report describing the progress so far on SDG7 is a testament to the collaboration of the five international agencies on providing quality and comprehensive data and delivering a common message regarding the progress towards ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,” said Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the Statistics Division of UN DESA. “Still, there is a need for improving statistical systems that collect energy information in those countries where the most pressing energy issues remain to be addressed. Better data are needed to inform policy accurately, particularly developing countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing States. For this, investments in energy statistical systems are essential.”

“The experience of countries that have substantially increased the number of people with electricity in a short space of time holds out real hope that we can reach the billion people who still live without power,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director for Energy and Extractives at the World Bank. “We know that with the right policies, a commitment to both on-grid and off-grid solutions, well-tailored financing structures, and mobilization of the private sector, huge gains can be made in only a few years. This in turn is having real, positive impacts on the development prospects and quality of life for millions of people.”

“It is unacceptable that in 2018, 3 billion people still breathe deadly smoke every day from cooking with polluting fuels and stoves. Every year, household air pollution kills around 4 million people from diseases including pneumonia, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and cancer,” said Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, at the World Health Organization (WHO). “By expanding access to clean affordable household energy, the global community has the power to lift a terrible health burden from millions of marginalized people – in particular women and young children who face the greatest health risks from household air pollution.”

“As we take stock of progress towards the global goal on sustainable energy, this latest data clearly shows more action and political leadership is needed if we are to live up to our promise to leave no one behind,” said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All. “To meet 2030 targets, we must make every unit of energy work harder. We need to increase investment in the technologies and business models that make electricity access affordable for everyone, place even bigger bets on the remarkable capacity of renewable energy and build big markets for clean fuels and cooking access. World leaders put the promise of leaving no one behind at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals, and now is the time for that promise to become reality.”

It is the fourth edition of this report, formerly known as the Global Tracking Framework (GTF).  The report can be downloaded at http://trackingSDG7.esmap.org/  Funding for the report was provided by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).

IEA

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Energy

Crunching the numbers: Are we heading for an oil supply shock?

MD Staff

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In the detailed energy model that underpins WEO 2018, new sources of oil supply steadily come online at the right time to meet changes in oil demand and keep the system in equilibrium. This smooth matching of supply and demand minimises oil price volatility, which is why our price trajectories in each scenario are smooth, and would likely be a desirable outcome for many of the world’s oil consumers (it could also be better in the long run for many of the world’s producers.

But commodity markets don’t work this way in practice. The oil price drop in 2014 led to multiple widespread impacts on markets, not least of which was that the number of new upstream projects approved for developments plummeted. With the rapid levels of oil demand growth seen in recent years, there are fears that supply could struggle to keep up, bringing with it the risk of damaging price spikes and increased volatility.

On the flip side, with shale production in the United States continuing to grow at record levels and increasing attention on executing upstream projects that can quickly bring oil to market, there are also arguments why a future oil supply “crunch” be safely ruled out. What does the WEO 2018 have to say on this matter?

Why invest in new supply?

The discussion about investment in oil projects typically focuses on the outlook for demand. But this is only a small part of the story – the main reason why new investment is required, in all our scenarios, is because supply at existing fields is constantly declining.

In the New Policies Scenario, there is a 7.5 mb/d increase in oil demand between 2017 and 2025. But without any future capital investment into existing fields or new fields, current sources of supply (including conventional crude oil, natural gas liquids, tight oil, extra-heavy oil and bitumen, processing gains etc.) would drop by over 45 mb/d over this period – this is known as the “natural decline” in supply.  If there were to be continued investment into existing fields but still no new fields were brought online – known as the “observed decline”– then the loss of supply would be closer to 27.5 mb/d. A 35 mb/d supply-demand gap would therefore still need to be filled by investments in new fields in the New Policies Scenario in 2025 (there’s also a 26 mb/d gap in 2025 even in the demand-constrained world of the Sustainable Development Scenario).

Part of this 35 mb/d gap is filled by conventional projects already under development. There is also growth in conventional NGLs, extra-heavy oil and bitumen, tight oil in areas outside the United States, and other smaller increases elsewhere. In total these sources add around 11 mb/d new production between 2017 and 2025. Another portion of the gap would be filled by new conventional crude oil projects that have not yet been approved. Around 16 billion barrels of new conventional crude oil resources in new projects are approved each year in the New Policies Scenario between 2017 and 2025: these provide around 13 mb/d additional production in 2025.

This leaves around 11 mb/d. In the New Policies Scenario, this is filled by US shale liquids – also known as “tight liquids” – which includes tight crude oil, tight condensates and tight NGLs. Shale liquids production in the United States in 2017 was just over 7.5 mb/d. If investment were to have stopped in 2017, shale liquids production would have fallen by around 4 mb/d to 2025. However, we have seen that investment and production has actually soared over the course of 2018, and average production in 2018 is set to be close to 9.5 mb/d.

In the New Policies Scenario, shale liquids grow by another 5 mb/d to 2025 (i.e. total growth of 7 mb/d from 2017). So from 2017, and including the production to offset declines, US shale liquids provide the additional 11 mb/d production that is required to fill the remainder of the supply-demand gap. This would represent a huge increase in oil production: the growth between 2015 and 2025 would surpass the fastest rate of growth ever seen previously over a 10-year period (Saudi Arabia between 1967 and 1977).

If conventional investment doesn’t pick up…

It is worth looking in more detail at the assumption that 16 billion barrels resources are approved in new conventional crude oil projects each year from 2018 onwards. In the years since the oil price crash in 2014, the average annual level of resources approved has been closer to 8 billion. The volumes of conventional crude oil receiving development approval would therefore need to double from today’s levels, alongside robust growth in other sources of production, if there is to be a smooth matching of supply and demand in the New Policies Scenario.

What if this does not occur and annual conventional approvals remain at around today’s level? This would mean that some of the supply-demand “gap” would remain and another source would need to step into the breach. The most likely candidate to do so would likely be for US operators to increase tight liquids production at a much faster rate than is projected in the New Policies Scenario.

… then the US would need to add another ‘Russia’ to the global oil balance in 7 years.

In this case, US tight liquids production would need to grow by an additional 6 mb/d between now and 2025. Total growth in US tight liquids between 2018 and 2025 would therefore be around 11 mb/d: roughly equivalent to adding another “Russia” to the global oil balance over the next 7 years.

With a sufficiently large resource base – much larger than we assume in the New Policies Scenario – it could be possible for US tight liquids production to grow to more than 20 mb/d by 2025. However increasing production to this level would require a level of capital investment and a number of tight oil rigs that would far surpass the previous peaks in 2014. It would also rely on building multiple new distribution pipelines to avoid bottlenecks that could prevent or slow the transport of oil away from production areas.

What if demand were to follow a different trajectory?

In the Sustainable Development Scenario, with concerted action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, demand peaks in the early 2020s and falls by 1 mb/d between 2017 and 2025. We do not yet see the policies in place or on the horizon that would lead to this outcome (if we did, they would be incorporated already in the New Policies Scenario), but it is of course possible that a lower demand trajectory also helps to avoid the risk of market tightening in the 2020s.

In the Sustainable Development Scenario, shale liquids, conventional NGLs and EHOB all grow from today’s levels in this scenario, albeit to a lesser extent than in the New Policies Scenario given a lower oil price. Filling the remainder of the gap would require approvals of around 8 billion barrels between now and 2025. This is very similar to the level seen over the past few years. This places the implications of “peak oil demand” in context. Even with a near-term peak and subsequent reduction in demand of around 1 mb/d by the mid-2020s, there remains a need to develop new upstream oil investments to fill the supply-demand gap.

IEA

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Is nuclear energy essential for deep decarbonization?

MD Staff

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The world is not on track to meet the target of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to ‘well below’ 2°C. Participants at the Ninth International Forum of Energy for Sustainable Development (12-15 November 2018) in Kiev, Ukraine, deliberated on how nuclear energy could contribute to deep decarbonization. Today, some 450 nuclear power reactors in 30 countries provide about 11% of the world’s electricity. Nuclear energy is the world’s second largest source of low-carbon power, with about 30% of the total in 2015, and it displaces about 2 gigatonnes of CO2 every year.

Speaking at the Forum’s workshop on “Nuclear Energy and Sustainable Development: Role of nuclear in a decarbonized energy mix”, Ms. Yuliya Pidkomorna, Deputy Minister for Energy and Coal Industry, Ukraine observed that nuclear energy is the mainstay of energy infrastructure in Ukraine. Experts from Ukraine showcased nuclear energy’s contributions to the country’s achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants from United Kingdom and Canada presented national programmes in which nuclear energy contributes to deep decarbonization.

“A dialogue on the energy transition is incomplete without considering nuclear power”, said Mr. Scott Foster, Director, Sustainable Energy Division, UNECE in his opening remarks. “This is why the Forum has included nuclear energy on the agenda for the first time.”

Many countries have chosen to not pursue nuclear energy because they view that the risks of incidents or accidents at nuclear power stations are unacceptable. Other countries have determined that they will not be able to achieve their development objectives without deploying nuclear power. Many countries such as China, India and Russia are expanding their nuclear power base, while countries like Bangladesh, Belarus, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are building nuclear power plants for the first time.

Advanced nuclear power systems incorporate passive safety features. Reducing costs through economies of scale and deployment of innovative small and medium reactors will have to be accelerated. Over fifty models of such reactors are under design and regulatory approval in different countries.

“Small and medium reactors are a possible game changer for nuclear power”, said David Shropshire, Section Head, Planning and Economic Studies, International Atomic Energy Agency. “They can be deployed by 2030 as a low carbon alternative, meet growing needs for potable water due to the climate change, and support remote and niche applications.”

“Today’s nuclear energy is the product of 60 years of innovation, supplying clean, affordable and reliable electricity on a major scale”, said Ms. Agneta Rising, Director-General, World Nuclear Association, summarizing the deliberations at the workshop. “To meet the growing demand for clean electricity, the global nuclear industry Harmony programme sets out a vision of 25% of global electricity supplied by nuclear by 2050 working alongside other low-carbon energy forms such as renewable energies.”

Deliberations on nuclear energy at the Forum intersected with discussions on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and fossil fuels and the need for finding the right mix suited for different regions and countries. Decarbonizing energy will require contributions from all low-carbon technologies.

The workshop was co-organized by World Nuclear Association and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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The impact of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil industry, market in focus

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Right from the day Trump withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal, announcing his plan for cutting Iranian oil exports to zero, the oil scholars and experts all around the world begun contemplating the impacts of this decision on the Iranian oil industry especially on the country’s oil exports.

Today, near five months after Trump’s announcement and while the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on Tehran, still nobody has a clear idea about the outcomes of the U.S. actions against Iran, and there is still great disagreement over the magnitude of the impact on Iranian oil industry and especially on crude exports.

However, the oil markets have been through various changes in the past few months based on which we can draw a relatively neat picture of what to expect in the future.

Markets moving toward ‘oversupply’

In January 2017 OPEC and a group of non-OPEC producers including Russia began cutting their output in order to balance an oversupplied market in which the oil prices had fallen from over $100 a barrel to under $30. After OPEC+ agreement the glut was slowly drained and the prices stared to move in an upward trend reaching $80.

The rise in oil prices started to concern Trump’s administration who were close to the midterm elections and also planning to re-impose sanctions on Iran; and the surging oil prices were not at all in line with their interests. This made Trump to begin pushing the U.S. allies in the Middle East to pump more oil in order to lower the surging prices.

In June 2018, led by Saudi Arabia as the biggest U.S. ally in the Middle East, OPEC and non-OPEC group agreed to restore some of their output to help rebalance the market which this time was considered “very tight”.

Afterward, despite the 2017 agreement, some OPEC members were allowed to pump at their maximum levels and also the world’s top three oil producers namely the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia, hit new production records.

Oil demand and a broken cycle

After pumping at their highest levels for over four months, Saudi Arabia and U.S. producers had to face the fact that there might not be enough demand for their oil in the markets.

The rising trade tensions between U.S. and China, rising interest rates and currency weakness in emerging markets have raised concerns about a slowdown in global economic growth and consequently in oil demand.

So getting back to the starting point [safe to say in a broken cycle], Saudi’s begun to believe that, once again, the markets were moving toward a glut and even with the cuts in Iranian output, the markets didn’t have the appetite for the new oil flows.

Consequently, in their latest gathering in Abu Dhabi, OPEC+, announced that the current situation “may require new strategies to balance the market.”

Gathered for their 11th meeting on Sunday, the OPEC-Non-OPEC Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee (JMMC) announced that “the Committee reviewed current oil supply and demand fundamentals and noted that 2019 prospects point to higher supply growth than global requirements, taking into account current uncertainties.”

Following the meeting, Saudi Arabia announced its plans to reduce oil supply to world markets by 0.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, Reuters reported on Monday.

Iran sanctions and the exemptions

Facing resistance from Saudi Arabia for pumping more oil and pressured by high oil prices, the U.S. government had no choice but to soften their stance against Iran and let go of its “zero Iranian oil” dream.

So, just few days before OPEC+ meeting, when there were talks of a new strategy for cutting output, the U.S. government announced that it has agreed to let eight countries, including China, Turkey, South Korea, Japan and India to continue buying Iranian oil.

With the new waivers coming to effect, a significant amount of the cuts in Iran’s oil exports will be compensated.

The impacts on Iran’s oil industry

So far, affected by the U.S. sanctions, Iran’s oil exports have fallen from an average of more than 2.5 million barrels per day to around 1.5 million bpd in recent weeks.

This means currently near 1 million bps of Iranian crude oil has been wiped from the markets and Iran is currently selling a lot less than what it used to sell before the re-imposition of the sanctions.

So how big the effect of these cuts could project on the country’s economy?

First of all, the oil revenues envisaged in Iran’s current budget for Iranian calendar year 1397 (March 2018-March 2019) is estimated to be 1.01 quadrillion rials (near $26.5 billion) planned based upon $55 oil. This means under a $55 scenario, for this amount of oil revenues to be realized, Iran should sell 2.410 million barrels per day of oil up to March 2019.

What should be taking into consideration here, is the fact that since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 2018), average oil price has been at least over $60 and according to Reuters ship tracking data, Iran has been exporting 2.5 million barrels of oil and condensate on average during this time span, that is about 400,000 barrels more than what is expected in the country’s budget.

As for the current oil prices, according to the Reuters’ latest report on Sunday, after Saudi Arabia announced a decision for cutting their output by 500,000 bpd in December and considering the U.S. announcement regarding the waivers over Iran sanctions, oil is currently being traded at over $70 per barrel that is still over $15 more than the price based on which Iran’s budget is set.

Aside from the increase which is due to come from the resumption of purchases by the exempted countries, Iranian crude exports are also keeping steady with the demand staying strong in the EU. European buyers including Italy, France, Spain and Croatia continuing their intakes even after announcement of the sanctions.

This indicates that even at the current levels, and even without considering the barrels which are going to be back to Iranian oil exports due to the waivers for the mentioned eight countries, the U.S. sanctions are not having as a severe impact on Iran’s economy and oil industry as they were supposed to.

Let’s not forget the country’s ample domestic storage which can easily absorb the barrels that are not exported. Previously, when the U.S. and EU imposed sanctions on Iran, the country put almost 50 million barrels of crude and condensates on floating storage between 2012 and January 2016.

Meanwhile, the country’s refineries have also been picking up in the past few months. Iran’s gasoline production has surged 50 percent over the last 12 months, with further increases to come, according to the oil ministry.

In the end, considering the global supply and demand patterns, the trade tensions between the U.S. and China and with OPEC+ considering new cuts to be executed in 2019, as well as U.S.’ recent waivers over Iran sanctions, we can see that the odds are quite slim for U.S. sanctions having a significant impact on the Islamic Republic’s economy and its oil industry in the long run.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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