June 15 International Energy Agency Report

Today, the International Energy Agency released its energy outlook. Here are the highlights.

  • Growth in lower carbon energy sources, including renewables and natural gas, may be having a real impact on carbon dioxide (CO2) in the environment. In 2014, to the surprise of most people, CO2 remained flat despite global economic growth of 3%.
  • Nearly half of all new power generation came from renewables. The conversion rate of power generation from coal to natural gas continued to rise, but coal continued to be a major source of global power generation. Energy efficiency measures were implemented widely.
  • Energy efficiency contributed substantially to the flat growth rates in CO2. The US announced new standards for energy efficiency in a variety of manufactured products, including electric motors and walk-in coolers and freezers. China, India, Mexico and other countries announced new minimum energy performance standards.
  • In 2013 renewable power generation rose by 128 gigawatts. More than one third of that gain came from wind power, and about a third came from solar power.
  • Power generation from natural gas increased by 9%. Prices for natural gas continued to decline due primarily to the increased availability that has come from new technology, particularly hydraulic fracturing. Natural gas, as previously noted in this blog, produces substantially lower carbon emissions.

The energy sector is undergoing substantial change; yet we will remain dependent on fossil fuels for many more years. Technology is likely to continue to improve CO2 emissions, especially in developed countries. But developing countries, especially the poorer ones, will continue to be dependent on cheaper fossil fuels like coal.

Progress in reductions in CO2 emissions are heavily dependent on market forces, including lower prices and new technologies that come from research. That research has been responsible for new methods like hydraulic fracturing increased efficiency in photovoltaic cells and greater efficiency in battery storage.June

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