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Global energy investment steadies at US$1.85t in 2018

Few signs of large reallocation of capital towards low-carbon energy needed to help reach goals to keep global warming in check, says IEA's 2019 World Energy Investment report


GLOBAL energy investment steadied at nearly US$1.85 trillion in 2018 after three years of decline, with slowing energy efficiency and renewables spending offset by increases in oil, gas and coal, the International Energy Agency said.

Upstream oil and gas spending in 2018 rose by nearly 4 per cent year on year to US$477 billion because of a rise in oil prices and a shift to shale gas and projects with shorter construction periods, according to the IEA's 2019 World Energy Investment report.

The IEA expects oil and gas spending to rise to US$505 billion in 2019.

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Investment in coal supply increased by 2 per cent to US$80 billion, representing the first increase since 2012.

This was mainly spent on maintaining production levels rather than new mines, the report said.

In the global power sector, investment dipped by 1 per cent to about US$775 billion, but it remained the largest investment sector because of growing demand for electricity.

Energy efficiency investment was stable but renewables spending edged down by 1 per cent to a little more than US$300 billion as net capacity additions flattened and costs fell for some technologies.

The report said there were few signs of the large reallocation of capital towards low-carbon energy, which is needed to help achieve goals to keep global warming in check.

The planet's surface has already warmed by 1 deg C since industrialisation began, and is on track to heat up another 3 deg C by the century's end - a recipe for human misery on a global scale, scientists say.

"Energy investments now face unprecedented uncertainties, with shifts in markets, policies and technologies," said Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director.

"But the bottom line is that the world is not investing enough in traditional elements of supply to maintain today's consumption patterns, nor is it investing enough in cleaner energy technologies to change course."

Investment in low-carbon energy was relatively stable at about US$620 billion last year but growth has stagnated since a 3 per cent rise in 2016.

The share of low-carbon energy in total energy investment is nearly 35 per cent, which needs to grow to 65 per cent by 2030, the IEA said.

China remained the largest market for energy investment in 2018 at about US$375 billion.

However, its lead over the United States narrowed, with spending there at about US$350 billion.

Energy investment in the European Union weighed in at a little more than US$200 billion. REUTERS