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Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on this site and on Twitter will start in late 2020. It will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

A Mundane Comedy is Halcyon's new book. Extracts will appear on this site and on social media during late 2020. Please get in touch with any questions about the book or related Halcyon services.

Halcyon monitors change for more than 150 key elements of life.

What's Changing? - Energy

Energy

 

Please see below selected recent energy-related change.

 

See also:

 

In figures:

 

October 2020

  • Solar power is now the cheapest energy in history, according to the International Energy Agency. As a result the IEA forecast 43 per cent more new solar capacity worldwide by 2040 in 2020 than it did in 2018, and is talking up a solar-based path to 1.5 degrees of warming – as opposed to 2 degrees or more - see details. The IEA, which traditionally underestimated uptake of solar power, now sees a plausible path to global net zero carbon emissions by 2050 as long as we take full advantage of it. Solar panels have plummeted in price, largely because of China’s decision in 2010 to mass-produce them.
  • China has 99 per cent of the world’s battery electric buses. As of 2019 it had more than 400,000 including 16,000 in Shenzhen alone. They’re starting to catch on elsewhere, including some of the smoggier parts of California and now also in the UK.

 

September 2020

  • Global oil demand plummeted amid the pandemic, with BP warning that oil consumption may never return to its pre-pandemic peak. Similarly, OPEC said any recovery in demand would be longer than previously forecast. The drop (along with a falling price per barrel that preceded the pandemic) hit U.S. energy companies particularly hard, with Chevron and Exxon posting losses. The latter doubled down on oil and gas while rivals have invested in renewable energies, reported The Wall Street Journal -  a gamble when potentially facing climate change-related regulation.
  • Indeed, oil fuelled the 20th century—its cars, its wars, its economy and its geopolitics. Now the world is in the midst of an energy shock that is speeding up the shift to a new order. As covid-19 struck the global economy earlier this year, demand for oil dropped by more than a fifth and prices collapsed. There have been oil slumps before, but this one is different. As the public, governments and investors wake up to climate change, the clean-energy industry is gaining momentum, noted The Economist. 
  • China, the world's top producer of greenhouse gas emissions, pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2060. It's the first time that Beijing has made a concrete "net zero" carbon commitment, which will entail scaling up its (voluntary) national emissions cuts under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Royal Dutch Shell said it planned to cut 7,000 to 9,000 jobs as it responds to challenges including the slump in oil demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The oil giant said the cuts would be implemented by 2022 and included 1,500 people who were taking voluntary redundancy. It gave no indication of where the job losses would happen. The move came months after it cut its dividend for the first time since World War Two.

 

August 2020

 

July 2020

  • After decades of investment, speculation, and slow advancement of renewable energy it appears that renewables are finally taking centre stage as competitive, reliable, and viable in many of the world’s largest economies. Although there are already some countries using 100% renewable energy, and many more approaching this feat, most in this group are low in population. However, some regions like parts of Brazil, Denmark, Canada, China, and Germany are proving that their populous, diverse economies can be supported by 100% renewables as well
  • The 2010s decade saw 3x more investment in renewables than the previous 2000s decade. Solar, wind and hydro are becoming the cheapest option for new generation. Billions of tonnes of emissions could be avoided, helping to fight the climate crisis.
  • Some, countries are doing more with with less energy. For most of the 20th century, there was a strong correlation between a country’s economic growth and its energy demands. But in the last two decades, for example, GDP has more than doubled in the US while electricity generation has barely budged, rising 40% since 1990. 
  • Wind is free, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before wind power became genuinely cheap, argued Tortoise Media. The Carbon Brief blog said the era of negative wind power subsidies – in which wind farms pay the government over their lifetime rather than vice versa – is nearly upon us. Power from wind farms due to be built in 2020 alone in the UK, Germany and Denmark sold for €50-55 per kilowatt-hour, which is less than from all but the cheapest fossil fuel sources. 

 

June 2020

  • The FT reported that Big Oil faces a future where it may not be so big, and may have less to do with oil. The industry has faced an increasingly uncertain future as climate change has moved to the forefront of the public’s consciousness. Investors, too, have stepped up their calls for action. Now the coronavirus pandemic, by radically cutting demand for oil and gas and giving governments the whip hand in directing the revival of their economies, looks likely to accelerate the long-term shift away from fossil fuels in many nations.
  • An unusually mild winter, coupled with worldwide coronavirus-related economic shutdowns, have drastically reduced global demand for natural gas in recent months. The International Energy Agency said consumption would fall by 4 percent in 2020, the largest annual drop in history.
  • Coronavirus’s impact on oil companies, from the biggest supermajors to small independent producers, was swift and devastating. In a matter of weeks, the world’s most valuable commodity had become practically impossible to sell. Is the crisis proof of the need to accelerate a transition away from fossil fuels, asked  Quartz in its field guide to the future of fossil fuels.

 

May 2020

  • The International Energy Agency said that global industrial greenhouse emissions in 2020 would drop by 8 percent as a result of coronavirus-related quarantines, the largest one-year drop since World War Two.

 

April 2020

  • More than 100 cities across the globe report that as much as 70% of their energy production now comes from renewables, and at least 40 cities and 158 companies committed to dial that up to 100%. Hundreds more—both cities and countries—pledged to move to renewable energy production. Even oil-rich Saudi Arabia is working on a detailed, long-term plan to help diversify its economy and move away from oil. Renewables will take on greater importance in the coming decade. The International Energy Agency projects renewables will account for about 40% of energy distributed through the global power grid by 2040. In the next five years, we should see faster growth in green tech than ever seen previously, according the Future Today Institute.
  • Prices for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) a US crude oil benchmark went below zero in April 2020 for the first time in history. Coronavirus-lockdowns destroyed so much demand for oil that sellers were left with more oil than they can store, forcing them to pay buyers to take the stuff off their hands. The international oil benchmark, Brent, stayed in positive territory for the time being, in part because it is shipped primarily by tankers which can respond more flexibly to ups and downs in demand around the world.

 

February 2020

 

January 2020

  • Batteries are on track to overtake fossil fuels as the primary way we power the world, but significant hurdles remain on the road to an all-electric future. Quartz analysed the history, science, and business behind batteries and looked inside the race to replace Big Oil.
  • The European Union wants to attract $1.1 trillion of public and private money to support its ambitious plans to reach carbon neutrality over the next ten years. Some member states are also boosting the money they're spending to go green. Germany's government this week said it would spend up to 44 billion euros to offset the impact of abandoning coal as a power source by 2038.

 

September 2019

 

June 2019

  • Energy trackers at BloombergNEF estimated that a 62% increase in electricity demand over the next three decades will bring in $13.3 trillion in new investments by 2050, with $5.3 trillion going to wind and $4.2 trillion to solar. 

 

May 2019

  • IMF research found that, globally, energy-related subsidies remained large at $5.2 trillion (6.5% GDP) as recently as in 2017. About three quarters of global subsidies are due to domestic factors - energy pricing reform thus remains largely in countries’ own national interest - while coal and petroleum together accounted for 85% of global subsidies. Efficient fossil fuel pricing in  would have lowered global carbon emissions by 28% and fossil fuel air pollution deaths by 46%, and increased government revenue by 3.8% of GDP.
  • Nature further warned that energy is at the root of many political ructions. President Donald Trump’s intention to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement in 2020, the European Union’s restrictive policies against importing Chinese photovoltaic cells and the political hostility towards the school strikes over climate-change inaction are all reactions to attempts to shift the world to a low-carbon economy.

 

February 2019

 

January 2019

  • For the past 25 years, natural gas has played an increasingly important role in global electricity generation. Around 22% of the world’s electricity now comes from natural gas power plants, while the use of the fuel is predicted to rise by 45% globally by 2040.
  • Arguing that it’s possible to bring electricity to the last billion and cut emissions. Quartz pointed to mini-grids made up of solar panels and cheap batteries that are helping remote people in Africa and Asia access some of the features of modern life.

 

December 2018

  • According to the International Energy Agency, the world got nearly 25% of its electricity from renewables in 2017, and that number should jump to 30% within the next few years.
  • In the energy industry, always-on transformation is rapidly becoming the default state. Few other industries contend with such a wide variety of shifting dynamics, including huge swings in the prices of natural resources, ever-changing government regulations, and new technologies that upend established models. In this environment, any company that wants to stay on top will have to continuously adapt its practices and portfolio to meet ever-shifting demands, claimed BCG.
  • Less than 35 percent of the world’s electricity was generated from non-carbon sources, according to BP. In order for the world to produce all its electricity via renewables by 2050, the use of solar and wind power would have to increase massively each year between now and then.
  • The share of global energy that came from renewables passed 10% in 2018.

 

November 2018

  • The oil price plunged on fears of slower global demand in 2019. The American oil price suffered its longest losing streak - 12 straight days - since 1984. The price of the global benchmark, Brent crude, fell by 7% on November 13th to just below $65 a barrel. Prices stabilisedafter reports that producers were planning to discuss cutting output, noted The Economist.
  • Most energy projects have long lives, noted EY. They are favoured by pension funds and other investors interested in long-term and stable returns. But ask which energy sources will be the main fuel source 30 years from now, and you will not get a definitive answer. For energy companies to diversify into low-carbon and renewable technologies and spread the risks of their portfolios; for them to innovate and discover new energy sources; for them to transition from large and lumbering to lean and flexible, they need serious amounts of risk-friendly financing.
  • Saudi Arabia extracted by the end of 2018 a historic high of 11.2 million barrels of crude per day. The Saudi crude surge has contributed to a recent drop in global oil prices.

 

October 2018

  • Quartz reported that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development now says solar- and wind-power plants are cheaper to build than fossil-fuel plants, almost everywhere in the world, while the World Bank has vowed not to fund coal-power projects.
  • Eni’s researchers are planning to eliminate the carbon dioxide produced by oil wells by transforming it into bio-oil (and then into vehicle fuel) using just solar energy and algae - read more.
  • Further viewing:

 

September 2018

 

August 2018

 

July 2018

  • The Global Innovation Index 2018 focused on the theme of ‘Energising the World with Innovation’. Energy demand is reaching unprecedented levels as a result of a growing world population, rapid urbanisation, and industrialisation. Higher levels of technological and non-technological innovation are required to meet this demand, both on the production side of the energy equation (alternative sources, smart grids, and new advanced energy storage technologies) and on the consumption side (smart cities, homes, and buildings; energy-efficient industries; and transport and future mobility). Innovation plays key roles in addressing both sides of that equation.

 

June 2018

 

May 2018

  • Oil prices have risen 65% since last June, touching a four year high of $75 a barrel in April 2018. Three things are driving up prices, according to GZEROMedia: ongoing production restraint from Russia and Saudi Arabia, dwindling production in Venezuela and Libya, and the prospect that US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal will mean fresh sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

 

April 2018

 

January-March 2018

 

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