Energy Transition

Equity suffers as countries pivot to energy security – plus other top energy stories this week

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Progress on clean, sustainable energy is positive, but there are emerging challenges to the equity of the transition, according to new research.

Progress on clean, sustainable energy is positive, but there are emerging challenges to the equity of the transition, according to new research. Image: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Roberto Bocca
Head, Centre for Energy and Materials; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
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  • This week's round-up brings you the latest developments in the global energy sector.
  • Top energy news: Equity suffers as countries pivot to energy security; China 5 years ahead of wind and solar targets; GHG emissions from the energy industry are still rising to all-time highs.
  • For more on the World Economic Forum's work in the energy space, visit the Centre for Energy and Materials.

1. Equity suffers as countries pivot to energy security – report

Major emerging economies with high future energy demand have made significant improvements on the energy transition, according to the World Economic Forum’s report, Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023.

However, while there has been broad progress on clean, sustainable energy, there are emerging challenges to the equity of the transition – providing just, affordable access to energy and sustained economic development – due to countries shifting their focus to energy security.

The 13th edition of the report draws on insights from the Energy Transition Index, which has plateaued over the last three years, meaning the speed is insufficient to reach net-zero emission goals.

Graphic showing the key findings of the Forum's Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report
Equity has been compromised. Image: Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023, World Economic Forum

“The window of opportunity for reaching net-zero targets is closing and countries must move urgently to cleaner energy systems,” says Muqsit Ashraf, Senior Managing Director and Global Strategy Lead, Accenture.

“Leveraging technology – both physical and digital, including data and AI – will be essential. By pushing the boundaries of disruptive technologies, like generative AI, countries and companies can realize what was previously thought impossible and simultaneously bolster not just sustainability but also better enable energy security and affordability.”

2. China 5 years ahead of wind and solar targets

China is on track to achieve government ambitions to have 1,200GW of power by 2030 around five years early, according to a report from Global Energy Monitor, as a range of successful government policies accelerate renewable energy construction.

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The report shows that China’s operating large utility-scale solar capacity is now bigger than the rest of the world combined. Its wind capacity has doubled from 2017 levels and is now over 310GW – and its offshore wind capacity exceeds the whole of Europe’s.

“China is making strides, but with coal still holding sway as the dominant power source, the country needs bolder advancements in energy storage and green technologies for a secure energy future,” Martin Weil, Researcher at Global Energy Monitor says.

China is the biggest emitting country of greenhouse gases and accounts for half of the world’s coal consumption. The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has pledged to achieve peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.

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

Greenhouse gas emissions from the energy industry are still rising to all-time highs, despite the rapid growth of solar and wind power, UK newspaper The

Guardian reports. Research from the Energy Institute shows that fossil fuels accounted for 82% of the world’s total energy consumption last year.

Carmaker Ford has received over $9 billion loans, the largest loan to a US carmaker in over a decade, to build battery factories, Bloomberg writes. The factories will supply Ford’s expansion into EVs as part of the US’ plans to catch up with China on green technologies.

The Nigerian government is encouraging investment in mini-solar grids that can supply electricity to remote areas, the Financial Times reports, rolling out more energy to the 43% of the population without access to grid electricity.

Germany has signed another long-term energy deal in an attempt to replace Russian energy. Germany signed a 20-year supply agreement with US firm Venture Global LNG, and the length of the deal suggests Germany will continue to use gas despite its goal of 95% reduction of net carbon emissions by 2045.

Malaysia Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has said it is unrealistic to expect Malaysia or other developing nations to reach net zero without assistance from more developed countries. Anwar is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050 but would need to double investment to $375 billion, writes CNBC.

In an effort to reduce its emissions, roof window company Velux Group has teamed up with the WWF for two climate and conservation projects in Viet Nam and Madagascar that will capture the equivalent of their total CO2 emissions from operations from 1941 to 2041.

Two firms have launched Hydrogen Airport, a joint venture that helps airports integrate hydrogen projects into existing infrastructure, Air Liquide reports.

In Maharashtra, India, the government has signed a deal with Renew Power for investment in a metallurgical grade silicon, polysilicon and ingot-wafer manufacturing plant, which will bring sophisticated photovoltaic cells and modules to the state.

Enel chairman Paolo Scaroni in the Financial Times says nuclear and renewables are complementary clean technologies, both of which are needed for the energy transition's success. In his original article, Scaroni had been interpreted as claiming that nuclear could replace - rather than complement - renewable energy. This was amended in a subsequent clarification article.

4. More on energy from Agenda

A panel at the World Economic Forum's 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions, hosted by China discusses why cooperation is key for the energy transition.

Clean power across industry is key to China achieving net zero. Here are two approaches that can accelerate its use.

Exhaust emissions from cars, lorries and other road vehicles currently account for about 75% of total emissions from mobility worldwide. Here are 3 things policymakers need to collaborate on for a sustainable electric vehicle transition.

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

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Contents
1. Equity suffers as countries pivot to energy security – report2. China 5 years ahead of wind and solar targets3. News in brief: More energy stories from around the world4. More on energy from Agenda

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