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The great transformation

Alternative Energy

A record deployment of renewables has helped shape the energy supply over the last 15 years

A number of emerging technologies, policy initiatives such as the COP21 agreement in Paris last year, the continued increase in demand in China and India, a rise in growth of renewable energies, as well as the growth in unconventional oil and gas, have solidified the level and extent of their impact on the energy sector and the environment.

We have seen fundamental structural changes in the energy sector, often referred to as energy transitions, globally.

The motivation, objectives and priorities for tackling these emerging energy transitions differ within different countries and regions, but can mainly be related to the Energy Trilemma of energy security, sustainability and affordability.

With long investment and substantial lead times, the energy industry has traditionally been a long-term market, and therefore change could take a fairly long time-especially on a global scale.

Rapid innovations

Therefore, when the changes in global primary energy consumption numbers over the past 15 years are compared, they are quite remarkable.

During this time, we have also experienced new developments such as low oil and gas prices.

The peak oil debate belongs to the past. The reality is that oil demand will peak before 2030. Energy intensity reductions are set to increase at a faster rate than the demand increase from a growing global middle class.

The electrification of energy use is a conspicuous trend. Naturally this therefore shifts the discussion from peak oil to peak demand. The diversification of technologies and resources within the energy sector creates many opportunities but the complexity associated with such diversity can also lead to increased challenges.

Strategic thinking

Solar and wind power will continue their rapid growth. The integration of these intermittent energy carriers into the supply system can be seen as just one of these structural challenges.

With the increased existing level of volatility, relying on solid facts and data as the basis for strategic decision-making by relevant stakeholders-such as governments, international organisations and companies-is becoming even more important than in the past.

Many principal drivers have shaped global energy supply and usage in recent years including:

  • The climate pledges ratified within the Paris agreement which form a milestone in international efforts to tackle climate change;
  • The record deployment of renewable energies, in particular wind and solar capacity for power generation, which increased globally by 200 gigawatts between 2013 and 2015;
  • Global wind power generation capacity reached 432 GW in 2015, around 7% of total global power generation capacity (420 GW onshore, 12 GW offshore). A record of 63 GW was added in 2015 and total investment in the global wind sector was $109bn in 2015;
  • Crude oil prices recorded the largest percentage decline since 1986, with the halving of the world market price for oil, from more than $100 per barrel to less than$50/b. In 2015 oil remained the world’s leading fuel accounting for 32.9% of global energy consumption;
  • A decrease in global coal consumption, which occurred in 2015 for the first time in the current century, mainly caused by China’s transition to a less energy-intensive society;
  • The achieved progress in the implementation of carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies, in North America, with the world’s first large-scale application of carbon dioxide capture technology in the power sector commencing operation in October 2014 at the Boundary Dam power station in Canada.


The goals of the Paris treaty on climate change are unachievable without a global commitment to CCUS.

As energy-related activities have significant environmental impacts, it is indispensable to build and provide an energy system which covers the needs of economies and preserves the environment.

The Global Transition is unstoppable, and requires a worldwide response and careful management, building on the principles of the Energy Trilemma.

A successful energy transformation calls for global political and economic collaboration at an unprecedented scale.

The world is projected to move towards a low carbon energy future, where CCUS-enabled fossil fuels, renewables, nuclear and energy efficiency all play a key role in the system.

A one-sided focus on selective priorities creates additional tension, increased system costs, and undermines the stability needed to encourage further required investment.

6 Comments on "The great transformation"

  1. Kenz300 on Wed, 19th Oct 2016 11:43 am 

    Climate Change is real….. we will all be impacted by it

    Exxon’s Climate Change Cover-Up Is ‘Unparalleled Evil,’ Says Activist

  2. Kenz300 on Wed, 19th Oct 2016 11:44 am 

    Renewable Energy Generation Breaks Records Every Month in 2016

    Scotland blows away the competition – 106% of electricity needs from wind

    Solar Cost Hits World’s New Low, Half the Price of Coal

  3. rockman on Wed, 19th Oct 2016 1:08 pm 

    “…when the changes in global primary energy consumption numbers over the past 15 years are compared, they are quite remarkable.” Certainly can’t deny that: in the last 15 years: global oil consumption has increased 10%, global NG consumption has increased 30% and global coal consumption has increased 60%.

    In fact not only has global CO2 production increased 30% in the last 15 years it has been increasing at the highest rate ever recorded.

    So yes: very remarkable since during the last 15 we’ve see more rhetoric then ever before about how absolutely critical it is for the world to move away from fossil fuels and reduce the amount of GHG generated.

    Absolutely remarkable!

    Oh, and yes: the % increase in alternative energy production has been remarkable. Even though in absolute terms of Btu’s the increase has been insignificant compared to the total amount of fossil fuel Btu’s generated.

  4. Bob on Wed, 19th Oct 2016 1:16 pm 

    CCUS is about the worst green energy solution I can think of. It reminds me of capturing CO2 in a soda drink and declaring the CO2 “contained forever”.

  5. Davy on Wed, 19th Oct 2016 6:14 pm 

    I changed some words around so it sounds better:

    The goals of the Paris treaty on climate change are unachievable with or without a global commitment to CCUS.

    The Global Transition because of collapse is unstoppable, and requires a worldwide response and mitigation of the Energy Trilemma. (Energy Trilemma – demand destruction, depletion, and unaffordability) to adapt to a horrible period of the Human trilemma of physical decay, systematic dysfunction, and death

    There will be no successful energy transformation because the scale is not possible physically or in time and it calls for global political and economic collaboration at an unprecedented scale that is unachievable with current population size and polarized world.

    The world is projected to move towards a low carbon energy future because in a collapsing world less carbon is produced.

  6. Kenz300 on Sat, 22nd Oct 2016 10:14 am 

    Carbon emissions from U.S. power generation fall to 25-year low

    Solar Cost Hits World’s New Low, Half the Price of Coal

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