Views of 80 percent of world’s utilities on electricity access, carbon reduction

Global Electricity Initiative

Utilities at COP-20 call for joint action to deliver universal access while reducing emissions.

A joint adaptation and mitigation approach, new energy storage technologies and stable policies along with a meaningful carbon price will be required if countries are to deliver universal access while reducing emissions, according to a new report by the Global Electricity Initiative released Dec. 9 at COP-20 in Lima.

The Global Electricity Initiative’s 2014 report, drawing on the views of CEOs of utilities from countries which together account for some 80 percent of the global installed generating capacity, emphasizes that a meaningful price for carbon dioxide is crucial in facilitating significant change in the fuel mix of the global electricity sector.

Urgent action is required to help sustain the growing role of renewables and other carbon-free technologies in meeting the rise in global energy demand, the report finds. On current trends, fossil fuels will continue to dominate, supplying between 77 and 59 percent of global primary energy mix by 2050, according to the report.

“The report highlights the fact that utilities remain strongly committed to providing a secure supply of electricity as their top priority,” said Philippe Joubert, executive chair of the Global Electricity Initiative. “Moreover, despite getting contradictory signals and different priorities from regulators and customers, utilities are focusing on decreasing emissions and minimizing environmental impacts.

“The ability to make sound investment choices in the electricity sector is heavily dependent upon the existence of long-term stability in policies and regulation. This stability is direly needed. The European Council’s climate agreement and the historic accord between the U.S. and China to reduce their CO2 emissions have sent encouraging signals. Now, it is crucial to build on the momentum in Lima in reaching a focused and comprehensive agreement for Paris next year and to kick-start the action to provide sustainable energy for all.”

The Global Electricity Initiative report finds that:

  • For the utilities surveyed, security of supply is the first priority and climate change is a reality. One hundred percent of the utilities believe that adaptation to climate change is as important as mitigation.
  • The change in energy mix is possible but will need time. Therefore, long-term thinking, stable and clear regulation, strong collective commitment and a meaningful carbon price are crucial for decisions on how to redirect investment.
  • 96 percent of the utilities see new advanced energy storage technologies as crucial success factor to growing the share of renewable energy. In addition, they already are working on other advanced technologies such as smart grids and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The Global Electricity Initiative report also finds that utilities support the objective of bringing energy to all by 2030; however, they express concerns that universal access to energy, in particular in Africa and Asia, will not be achieved unless governments, industry and the international community take immediate concerted action.

The survey, conducted with the global management consulting firm Deloitte, Southern Africa Office, also showcases best practices and the views of senior industry executives.

Click here for report

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