Global energy investment patterns are a mixed bag of trends. A recent snapshot of these patterns offers an equal measure of good news and cause for concern.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its second annual benchmark analysis of energy investment on July 11. Entitled, “World Energy Investment 2017,” the report reveals a sector that is contracting in some ways but expanding in others.
According to the report, total energy investment worldwide was around $1.7 trillion in 2016, accounting for about 2.2 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). While still a significant share, in real terms, this represents a 12 percent drop from the year before.
Investment in some areas grew substantially. For example, spending on energy efficiency and electricity networks grew by 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively. However, this upswing was more than offset by a continuing drop in investment in upstream oil and gas, which fell by over 25 percent. Power generation also fell by 5 percent.
The electricity sector moved ahead of the fossil fuel supply sector to become the largest recipient of energy investment in 2016 for the first time. A two-year drop of 38 percent in capital spending in the oil and gas sector also allowed low-carbon industries, such as electricity networks, to increase their share of the total supply-side investment to 43 percent over the same timeframe.
Investment in new renewables-based power capacity remained the largest areas of electricity spending at $297 billion, even though the total fell by 3 percent from 2015.