Are You a Short-Termist or a Long-Termist on Energy?

World Energy outlook graph: Shares of energy sources in world primary energy demand in the New Policies Scenario

The World Energy Outlook published last week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that cumulative investment of $38 trillion –almost $1.5 trillion per year is required in energy-supply investment from today until 2035, with 45% in the power sector alone.

World Energy Outlook graph: Incremental world primary energy demand by fuel, 2000-2010

World Energy Outlook 2011, © OECD/IEA, figure 10.1, page 354

According to the report, “coal won the energy race in the first decade of the 21st century,” accounting for almost 50% of the rise in global energy use over the past 10 years. The IEA says that the majority of this growth in coal usage stems from the power sector in emerging economies. The IEA predicts that the use of coal will increase up to 65% by 2035.

The IEA found that global primary energy demand is set to grow by “40% between 2009 and 2035” with oil remaining the dominant fuel.

“Sustainability has to be a Global Decision”

In a press release on the report the IEA said that: “Without a bold change of policy direction, the world will lock itself into an insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system.”

Sustainability has to be a global decision and security of supply has to be a high priority on anyone’s agenda. The Western world can not afford to rely on primary fuel supply from unstable political regimes, variable policy decisions and supply at any price.

The cost of no action today is only short-term economics versus long-term financial robustness and fuel supply security.

We have to build a renewable energy industry right here on our own doorstep. Carrying some of the risk of emerging energy infrastructure is where insurance is the enabler.

Let’s not forget technological advancement, for all the skeptics who raise problems with current technology, efficiency and reliability, the best is yet to come. The real future has probably not surfaced yet but many ideas for tomorrow still need to emerge from incubation.

About Michael Buckle

Michael is an Executive Director of Global Markets and leads Willis' Renewable Energy practice. Based in London wit…
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