EWG Newsletter - February 2017
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Technology to Transform the Energy Sector,
 100% Renewables in East Asia and Europe, 
 Ukraine as Role Model for Germany?

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As global energy transition gathers pace, innovative technology can further disrupt and transform the energy sector much faster than the most of business-as-usual scenarios predict. Two major reports by Carbon Tracker and the McKinsey Global Institute come to this conclusion. Meanwhile, Ireland has as a first country in the world committed to fully divest from fossil fuels, as an increasing number of cities, Univerisities and businesses join the global divestment movement. As Ukraine has dramatically reduced its gas dependence on Russian energy supplies, Germany has become more dependent on them due to the political barriers to the energy transition in the country, argues EWG President. You will find this news and new studies on 100% renewable energy in East Asia and Europe in our newsletter. 
Energy Watch Group (EWG) is an international network of scientists and parliamentarians. We commission research projects and publish independent studies on global energy developments. Our mission is to provide energy policy - and you via this newsletter - with objective information on global energy developments! 

Global Energy News

Oil and Gas Discoveries at the Lowest Total for 60 years
Last year, discoveries of new oil and gas fields have dropped to a 60-year low, as fossil fuel companies put a brake on exploration and large fields have become harder to find, writes the Financial Times. There were only 174 oil and gas discoveries worldwide in 2016, compared with an average of 400-500 a year up until 2013. According to the experts, the slowdown reflects both the cyclical cuts in exploration made by companies struggling to stay afloat after the drop in oil and gas prices since 2014, and the structural shift in the industry towards onshore shale and similar reserves, especially in North America.

Disruptive Technology To Boost Renewables and Reshape the Energy Sector

The report by the McKinsey’s Global Institute “Beyond the Supercycle: How Technology is Reshaping Resources” forecasts that renewable energy could grow from 4% of power generation today to as much as 36% of global electricity supply by 2035 in a tech acceleration scenario. Renewables not only reduce overall demand for energy, as they do not incur the heat losses as fossil fuels, but also accelerate “sector coupling”, the combination of power, heat and mobility, as the energy used to supply homes and offices is also used to power cars and other transportation.

Falling costs of electric vehicle (EV) and solar technology could halt growth in global demand for oil and coal from 2020, according to the new report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and Carbon Tracker. The report warns that fossil fuels may lose 10% of market share to PV and electric vehicles within a single decade. A 10% loss of power market share led to a collapse of the US coal mining industry.

Meanwhile, electric cars are set to arrive far more speedily than anticipated, the Economist writes. Developments in China play a decisive role. In 2016, more than 400,000 pure EVs were sold in China, making it the world’s biggest market. China’s solar power capacity more than doubles in 2016, turning the country into the world’s biggest producer of solar energy by capacity.
World’s First Country to Fully Divest from Fossil Fuels & Other Newcomers

Ireland is set to become the world's first country to fully divest from fossil fuels. In January, the Irish Parliament has voted in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the €8bn (£6.8bn) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, part of the Republic’s National Treasury Management Agency, the Independent reports.

In Australia-first move, private health fund HCF to pull $20m out of fossil fuel companies in acknowledgement that climate change harms health. In 2017, a number of Universities have also joined the global divestment. Following their 17-month student campaign, Fossil Free St Andrews has announced that the university commits to divest. Already a quarter of British Universities have joined the divestment movement.

End of January, the German biggest bank made the headlines by its announcement it will stop financing coal projects. Yet, the analysis of Urgewald shows that Deutsche Bank puts only first minor restrictions on coal, but in fact still has a long way to go. Meanwhile, Denmark’s largest energy company Dong Energy has also announced it will stop generating electricity and heating based on coal by 2023.

Energy Dependence on Russia: Ukraine as a Role Model for Germany? 

Unbelievable, but true: As Ukraine has reduced its dependence on Russian energy supplies in the last few years, Germany’s imports of energy especially of natural gas from Russia have increased in 2016. This is caused by a political strangulation of the Energiewende in Germany, writes President of the Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell in his op-ed for the Frankfurter Rundschau (in German). 

Science Update

Can Australia Power the Energy-Hungry Asia with Renewable Energy?

A new study by Prof. Christian Breyer, Co-Chairman of the EWG scientific board and Professor for Solar Economy at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and his coworkers simulated a cost-optimal 100% renewable energy based system for East Asia for the year 2030, covering demand of power, desalination, and industrial gas sectors on an hourly basis for an entire year. The study also looks into the renewable energy service options of Australia in satisfying the energy demand in East Asia.
International Experiences with Tender Procedures for Renewable Energy 

A new paper by Benjamin Bayer, Dominik Schäuble and Michelle Ferrari of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) compares the tender experiences and results for wind power and solar PV in Brazil, France, Italy and South Africa. The paper analyses and discusses rates of completion, market concentration and auction prices.  
A Low-cost Power System for Europe Based on Renewable Electricity

100% renewable energy based electricity in Europe is not only feasible but also cost-effective, a new study by Prof. Christian Breyer, Michael Child et al. shows. An inner-European grid-connection could reduce costs for electricity by 10% and sector coupling by further 5-10%. Great Britain and Norway could become the most important wind energy export countries, write the study authors. 

EWG News

The International Energy Agency’s Double Game with Climate Change

Even though the projections of the International Energy Agency (IEA) have improved in the last years, the IEAs flagship report “World Energy Outlook” is still full of false figures and assumptions, writes President of Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell in an op-ed for the Beam. He calls on the IEA to stop playing a double game with the IEA and start realising realistic energy scenarios reflecting state of the art research and real growth rates.

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