Energy Transition

'World must double pace of progress on energy efficiency', says IEA chief – plus other top energy stories this week

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Energy efficiency is a key way to reduce the number of renewable energy projects required.

Energy efficiency is a key way to reduce the number of renewable energy projects required. Image: REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Roberto Bocca
Head, Centre for Energy and Materials; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum Geneva
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  • This week's round-up brings you the latest developments in the global energy sector.
  • Top energy news: Doubling the speed of energy-efficiency progress is key for net zero; UK considers geothermal energy to level up underinvested areas; India pauses proposals for new coal plants.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum's work in the energy space, visit the Centre for Energy and Materials.

1. 'Doubling the speed of energy-efficiency progress is key for net zero': IEA

Investments in energy efficiency are expected to reach record highs this year. Still, the pace of growth is slowing, which could, in turn, slow the path to net zero emissions, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“Today, we are seeing strong momentum behind energy efficiency,” says IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“Countries representing over 70% of the world’s energy consumption have introduced new or improved efficiency policies since the global energy crisis began over a year ago. We now need to push into a higher gear and double energy-efficiency progress by the end of this decade.”

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Policies such as Europe’s RePowerEU plan, the US Inflation Reduction Act and Japan’s Green Transformation initiative will be critical to delivering accelerated energy efficiency in the short, medium and long term, says the IEA.

Investment in energy efficiency, electrification and end-use renewables jumped by 16% in 2022 to record highs across all three end-use sectors that the IEA report tracks. But for 2023, it expects growth to slow to just 4%, driven by a larger reduction in efficiency spending.

Graphic showing how growth in energy efficiency investment is slowing.
Growth in energy-efficiency investment is slowing but it needs to be intensifying, the IEA says. Image: IEA

2. UK considers geothermal energy to level up underinvested areas

Geothermal energy could help the UK level up its energy transition and support areas that lack investment, The Guardian reports.

The geothermal sites in the country with the greatest potential coincidentally line up with towns and cities that most need investment, which could help boost economic growth.

A government-funded academic study found areas well-suited to geothermal heat and electricity across the country. The UK theoretically has enough geothermal energy to heat every home for 100 years, meaning it could be a huge asset in decarbonizing the country and reducing its reliance on imported fossil fuels, The Guardian says.

Geothermal energy is renewable, but unlike solar and wind, it is not impacted by weather conditions, so it can support baseload power supplies with 24-hour energy from the ground. But downsides include high costs and geographic restrictions.

Graphic showing how geothermal energy works and the leading countries by installed capacity.
Geothermal energy draws on heat from the Earth's core. Image: Visual Capitalist/Think GeoEnergy Research, US Department of Energy, National Geographic, Renewable Energy Agency

3. News in brief: More energy stories from around the world

The Indian government is considering pausing proposals for new coal plants for the next five years to focus on growing the renewables sector, Reuters reported. Media reports suggest the country relies on coal for around 75% of its electricity needs.

France is facing a surge in power demand in the next decade driven by electric vehicles, battery plants and synthetic aviation fuel, according to Reuters. Recent EU legislation halted sales of CO2-emitting cars past 2035.

US solar installations jumped by nearly 50% January-March as a supply shortage eased, allowing more projects to complete and connect to the grid.

The US and Turkmenistan are in negotiations to reduce huge methane leaks in the Central Asian country. The US hopes to halt methane leaks – which are responsible for a quarter of global temperature increases – before the UN’s COP28 climate summit in November, the UK newspaper The Guardian reports.

Ørsted and Vestas are partnering up to create net zero offshore wind projects that are more scalable and lower cost. Orsted – the world’s biggest offshore wind farm developer by capacity – has also announced ambitious plans to invest $68 billion by 2030 for the installation of 50GW of power capacity.

A UK aerospace firm is hoping to raise $37 million to develop a hydrogen-powered electric aircraft that could launch in 2026, according to the Financial Times. The aviation industry is looking for innovative ways to decarbonize that include new fuel technologies.

New research suggests that the energy sector is increasing its spending on cybersecurity. The survey, produced by DNV, saw 6-in-10 energy professionals say their organization was boosting spending this year, with 64% saying their organization's infrastructure is more vulnerable than ever.

Discover

How is the World Economic Forum facilitating the transition to clean energy?

4. More on energy from Agenda

Prioritizing energy efficiency across sectors is crucial for Bangladesh as it relies heavily on imported fossil fuels. Here's how industrial energy efficiency can boost Bangladesh's economy.

Finland is on track to meet some of the world's most ambitious carbon neutrality targets by scaling up its nuclear, solar and wind power initiatives. Here’s how Finland has done it.

The ammonia production process is energy-hungry and creates high levels of CO2 emissions. Here’s how water, nitrogen and a simple sprayer could revolutionize the production of ammonia.

To learn more about the work of the Energy, Materials, Infrastructure Platform, contact Ella Yutong Lin: ellayutong.lin@weforum.org

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Contents
1. 'Doubling the speed of energy-efficiency progress is key for net zero': IEA2. UK considers geothermal energy to level up underinvested areas3. News in brief: More energy stories from around the world4. More on energy from Agenda

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