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Renewable Energy Now Accounts for a Third of Global Power Capacity

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The decade-long trend of strong growth in renewable energy capacity continued in 2018 with global additions of 171 gigawatts (GW), according to new data released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) today. The annual increase of 7.9 per cent was bolstered by new additions from solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84 per cent of the growth. A third of global power capacity is now based on renewable energy.  

IRENA’s annual Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accessible figures on renewable energy capacity indicates  growth in all regions of the world, although at varying speeds. While Asia accounted for 61 per cent of total new renewable energy installations and grew installed renewables capacity by 11.4 per cent, growth was fastest in Oceania that witnessed a 17.7 per cent rise in 2018. Africa’s 8.4 per cent growth put it in third place just behind Asia. Nearly two-thirds of all new power generation capacity added in 2018 was from renewables, led by emerging and developing economies.

“Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “The strong growth in 2018 continues the remarkable trend of the last five years, which reflects an ongoing shift towards renewable power as the driver of global energy transformation.

“Renewable energy deployment needs to grow even faster, however, to ensure that we can achieve the global climate objectives and Sustainable Development Goals,” continued Mr. Amin. “Countries taking full advantage of their renewables potential will benefit from a host of socioeconomic benefits in addition to decarbonising their economies.”  

IRENA’s analysis also compared the growth in generation capacity of renewables versus non-renewable energy, mainly fossil-fuels and nuclear. While non-renewable generation capacity has decreased in Europe, North America and Oceania by about 85 GW since 2010, it has increased in both Asia and the Middle East over the same period. Since 2000, non-renewable generation capacity has expanded by about 115 GW per year (on average), with no discernible trend upwards or downwards.

Highlights by technology:

Hydropower: Growth in hydro continued to slow in 2018, with only China adding a significant amount of new capacity in 2018 (+8.5 GW).

Wind energy: Global wind energy capacity increased by 49 GW in 2017. China and the USA continued to account for the greatest share of wind energy expansion, with increases of 20 GW and 7 GW respectively. Other countries expanding by more than 1 GW were: Brazil; France; Germany; India; and the UK

Bioenergy: Three countries accounted for over half of the relatively low level of bioenergy capacity expansion in 2018. China increased capacity by 2 GW and India by 700 MW. Capacity also increased in the UK by 900 MW

Solar energy: Solar energy capacity increased by 94 GW last year (+ 24 per cent). Asia continued to dominate global growth with a 64 GW increase (about 70% of the global expansion in 2018). Maintaining the trend from last year, China, India, Japan and Republic of Korea accounted for most of this. Other major increases were in the USA (+8.4 GW), Australia (+3.8 GW) and Germany (+3.6 GW). Other countries with significant expansions in 2018 included: Brazil; Egypt; Pakistan; Mexico, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Geothermal energy: Geothermal energy increased by 539 MW in 2018, with most of the expansion taking place in Turkey (+219 MW) and Indonesia (+137 MW), followed by the USA, Mexico and New Zealand.

Globally, total renewable energy generation capacity reached 2,351 GW at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity. Hydropower accounts for the largest share with an installed capacity of 1 172 GW – around half of the total. Wind and solar energy account for most of the remainder with capacities of 564 GW and 480 GW respectively. Other renewables included 121 GW of bioenergy, 13 GW of geothermal energy and 500 MW of marine energy (tide, wave and ocean energy).

The full report is available here.

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OPEC+ agrees to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production

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Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November, – informs CNBC.

An influential alliance of oil producers on Sunday agreed to stay the course on output policy ahead of a pending ban from the European Union on Russian crude.

OPEC and non-OPEC producers, a group of  23 oil-producing nations known as OPEC+, decided to stick to its existing policy of reducing oil production by 2 million barrels per day, or about 2% of world demand, from November until the end of 2023.

The European Union is poised to ban all imports of Russian seaborne crude from Monday, while the U.S. and other members of the G-7 will impose a price cap on the oil Russia sells to countries around the world.

The Kremlin has previously warned that any attempt to impose a price cap on Russian oil will cause more harm than good.

Led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, OPEC+ agreed in early October to reduce production by 2 million barrels per day from November. It came despite calls from the U.S. for the group to pump more to lower fuel prices and help the global economy…

The looming Russian oil price “cap” has all the hallmarks of a historic debacle in the making, – notes “The Hill”.

For months, the United States and the G-7 have haggled over a complex plan to constrain the money that the Kremlin makes from some of its oil exports.

Despite Russian war against Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions on his regime, Russia is swimming in petrol dollars. By the end of the year, the Russian Economy Ministry estimates that the country will have made a record $338 billion from its energy exports.

Together with America’s existing embargo on Russian crude, when the European Union’s oil embargo comes into full force on Dec. 5, policymakers fear that the move will constrain global petroleum supplies and push prices upward.

Assuming that EU and G-7 leaders can sort out their current price puzzle and fix Russian crude below what the international market would prefer to pay, who will pick winners and losers in the subsequent scramble for cheap Kremlin oil: Putin and his energy cronies?  

The Russian oil “cap” would not be necessary if the Biden White House had been making it easier to open the spigots of American oil from the start. The president’s pledge of “no more drilling” in America continues to undercut his economic and foreign policy against Russia.

If the Russian oil price cap fails to materialize or work as officials intend, the United States and its allies should drop the scheme, – stresses “The Hill”.

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G7 agrees oil price cap: reducing Russia’s revenues, while keeping global energy markets stable

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The international Price Cap Coalition has finalised its work on implementing an oil price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil. EU Member States in the Council have also just approved in parallel its implementation within the EU.

The cap has been set at a maximum price of 60 USD per barrel for crude oil and is adjustable in the future in order to respond to market developments. This cap will be implemented by all members of the Price Cap Coalition through their respective domestic legal processes.  

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said, “The G7 and all EU Member States have taken a decision that will hit Russia’s revenues even harder and reduce its ability to wage war in Ukraine. It will also help us to stabilise global energy prices, benefitting countries across the world who are currently confronted with high oil prices.”

While the EU’s ban on importing Russian seaborne crude oil and petroleum products remains fully in place, the price cap will allow European operators to transport Russian oil to third countries, provided its price remains strictly below the cap.

The price cap has been specifically designed to reduce further Russia’s revenues, while keeping global energy markets stable through continued supplies. It will therefore also help address inflation and keep energy costs stable at a time when high costs – particularly elevated fuel prices – are a great concern in the EU and across the globe.

The price cap will take effect after 5 December 2022 for crude and 5 February 2023 for refined petroleum products [the price for refined products will be finalised in due course]. It will enter into force simultaneously across all Price Cap Coalition jurisdictions. The price cap also provides for a smooth transition – it will not apply to oil purchased above the price cap, which is loaded onto vessels prior to 5 December and unloaded before 19 January 2023.

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The EU’s sanctions against Russia are proving effective. They are damaging Russia’s ability to manufacture new weapons and repair existing ones, as well as hinder its transport of material.

The geopolitical, economic, and financial implications of Russia’s continued aggression are clear, as the war has disrupted global commodities markets, especially for agrifood products and energy. The EU continues to ensure that its sanctions do not impact energy and agrifood exports from Russia to third countries.

As guardian of the EU Treaties, the European Commission monitors the enforcement of EU sanctions across the EU.

The EU stands united in its solidarity with Ukraine, and will continue to support Ukraine and its people together with its international partners, including through additional political, financial, and humanitarian support.

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Less Russian crude on the market may result in higher crude prices early next year

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When the U.S. Treasury Secretary proposed capping the price of Russian export oil to curb Moscow’s revenues, oil prices spiked. And Russia’s reaction was quite predictable: Moscow said it would stop exporting oil to countries that enforce the price cap that was embraced by all members of the G7, including Japan, which was granted an exemption from the cap, notes “Oil Price”.

Now, while the European Union debates the level of the oil price cap, skepticism about its effectiveness has grown. The main factor driving this skepticism is the price level being discussed, which is between $65 and $70 per barrel.

According to the authors of the idea at G7, this price level would provide Russia with an incentive to continue exporting crude oil even with a cap in a bid to avoid a shortage.

The problem is that unless the EU agrees on the price cap proposed by the G7, it will have to implement its very own embargo on all maritime Russian crude oil imports. And the problem lies in the fact that an embargo could lead to substantially higher prices for European oil buyers.

Yet at the currently considered price level, the cap, while certainly ensuring that Russian oil continues to flow internationally, would fail at its second stated goal: reducing Moscow’s revenues.

Yet for the EU, the matter seems to be more or less settled: Poland is not budging on its demand for a lower cap, and Greece and Cyprus are unlikely to budge on their demand to have their shipping industries protected — hypothetically — via a higher cap.

What this means? – An EU embargo on Russian oil, a squeeze on the supply of oil to the EU, and, consequently, higher prices. And higher prices for non-Russian oil may well lead to higher prices for Russian oil, too, as supply gets rerouted.

And if Russia sticks to its promise to suspend sales to cap enforcers, it might even end up with greater revenues from its oil.

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