EWG Newsletter 5 - May 2016
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Renewables Hit Record High | Twilight of Big Oil | G7 Invests Billions in Coal

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

More investment, more installed capacity, more jobs – 2015 was a record year for renewables, according to the latest REN21 and IRENA reports. Europe has lost its position as renewable energy leader, as most of the investment came from the emerging and developing countries. Meanwhile, major oil companies are having big troubles as shareholders are increasingly pushing for a reassessment of their business models against the Paris climate targets and as new evidence on stranded assets is piling up. 
Despite latest commitments, G7 countries keep investing billions in coal facilities abroad. This news and a new study on 100% renewable energy in Iran in our latest 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

Renewables Hit Record High

With a record increase in investment, installed capacity and jobs, 2015 was an extraordinary year for renewable energy, according to the latest REN21 Renewables Global Status Report

As renewables become increasingly cost competitive with fossil fuels, the developing and emerging countries outspent the OECD countries on renewables for the first time in history. China alone accounted for more than one-third of the global total investment in clean energy. And measured against a country's GDP, the biggest investors were small countries like Mauritania, Honduras, Uruguay and Jamaica.

With renewables on the rise, employment in the sector increased by 5% in 2015. Today, 8 million people are working in the clean energy sector worldwide, according to IRENA. The employment in Europe fell by 3%, as the EU ultimately lost its position as renewable energy leader. Meanwhile, the UBS Group and IHS consultancy expect further dramatic price falls for solar modules in 2016 due to oversupply in China, Climate Home reports.


Long Twilight of Big Oil Companies

With the global divestment movement and climate ambition on the rise, shareholders are pushing major oil companies to assess their business models against the climate targets set in Paris, writes the Economist.

According to the latest Accenture report, 33% of global oil and 50% of global gas investments may eventually be stranded by 2040. The company also warns that under a 2°C-compliant scenario, new oil exploration should end until then.

Faced by falling oil prices and plunging profits, big oil companies have started investing in renewables, but "it might be too little, too late for them to survive", warns Climate News Network. The Financial Times nailed it: "fossil fuel producers face a future of slow and steady decline" in its must-read article „The long twilight of the big oil companies” 

Source: Accenture, Energy Perspectives

G7 Keeps Investing Billions in Coal Overseas

G7 countries keep investing billions in coal-fired power plants abroad, despite their commitment to scale back public financing for coal. Japan alone accounted for 52% of the $42 billion provided by G7 for international coal projects, followed by Germany, according to a new report by environmental groups. 

South Africa, India, the Philippines, and Australia were the top recipients of the G7 coal financing from 2007 to 2015. Over nine years, not a single coal power plant backed by G7 overseas took place in low-income countries. This contradicts the claim of some G7 governments that their public finance for coal will increase energy access for the poorest. The report highlights that even the most efficient coal plant technology is incompatible with the 2
°target, let alone 1.5°C.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg has released a good take on coal’s stranded assets - half the assets in the global coal industry are now held by companies that are either in bankruptcy proceedings or don't earn enough money to pay their interest bills.

Source:  WWF report, "Swept under the rug"

Trade Unions Raise Voice Against Hinkley Point C

The future of the planned new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point remains in doubt, as key French trade unions oppose the project, BBC reports. The 85% French state-owned EDF had hoped to win support from a committee of workplace representatives, but the committee said staff had not been reassured about the plant's costs. Trade union representatives hold six of the 18 seats on the EDF's board. 

Science Update

Arctic Could Warm by 17C if All Fossil Fuels are Burned
Burning all oil, coal and gas reserves, existing on Earth, could push global temperature an average 8°C above preindustrial levels, according to a new study by the University of Victoria. The Arctic could be affected the most with temperatures rising by 17°C and rainfall in the tropical Pacific could increase by a factor of four, putting polar and rainforest ecosystems under immense risk, the authors told Carbon Brief. The temperature increase projected by the current study for the case of unmitigated fossil fuel burning exceeds projections of the previous research. 
Renewables Can Solve Iran’s Water Crisis 
A new study by Dr. Christian Breyer, co-chairman of the EWG scientific board and professor for Solar Economy at Lappeenranta University of Technology proves the price competitiveness of fresh-water, produced with renewable energy in Iran. Production costs can slip by 20ct/m3 if produced under the 100% renewables scenario. Moreover, due to its excellent solar and wind potential, Iran could emerge as a synthetic fuel exporter in a global zero emission economy. Both studies were presented at the 11th International Energy Conference in Tehran on May 30-31.  

EWG News

Energy Watch Group Keeps on Growing 
As our international network of scientists and parliamentarians is growing, we are happy to announce our new member:
Paul Gipe – Renewable Energy Analyst, the United States of America
Welcome on board!

Energy Watch Group at International Energy Conference in Iran

President of the Energy Watch Group Hans-Josef Fell delivered a keynote speech at the 11th International Energy Conference on May 30-31 in Tehran and met Iran’s energy minister Hamid Chitchian. Co-chairman of the EWG Scientific Board Dr. Christian Breyer and EWG scientist Dr. Lutz Mez of the Free University Berlin  presented results of their studies at the conference.
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