Energy Maze 2016
The second largest coal company in the US has just filed for bankruptcy. Environmentalists are celebrating the potential closing of some of the ugliest proposed coal projects in the country. But as Greenpeace points out, often chapter 11 bankruptcy gives bonuses to CEOs while cutting worker pensions.
The largest earthquake in Canada‘s history was likely induced by fracking. The Alberta government responded by immediately closing down the fracking operation. The company can not resume operations until they can demonstrate the technology is safe, that could be a long time coming.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (the only utility in the country which could “go it alone” with the construction of nuclear power plants in recent decades) has decided to cancel two reactor projects in Alabama. These are some of the last new commercial reactor projects in the US, bringing to a sputtering halt the much touted Nuclear Renaissance.
The biggest news however is about investment trends in 2015. Petroleum prices are the lowest in a decade (except for a brief period immediately after the 2008 crash). There has been a “dash for gas”, fracking gas in particular. Because renewables investments are structurally linked to fossil fuel prices, we would expect the investment market for new renewables capacity to have stalled in 2015. But if had we assumed this, we would be wrong.
Despite a big drop in European renewables investment, globally new clean energy investment exceeded all fossils fuels new capacity combined. Over 121 GW of renewables capacity came on line in 2015 at a price tag of $329 billion. Also interesting is that emerging economies accounted for more than half of the worlds renewables investments for the first time ever.
And what does the future hold? Business as usual (as forecasted by Bloomberg) looks like this:
For an excellent short video on the diversified energy future of 2016