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Expand chart
Adapted from IEA World Energy Investment report, 2018; Note: Electricity investment includes generation and networks. Does not include energy efficiency investment; Chart: Axios Visuals

Global investment in energy supplies dipped slightly last year, the third annual decline amid slowing growth of coal, hydro and nuclear power, which outpaced a boost in oil-and-gas, the International Energy Agency said.

By the numbers: Combined investment in oil-and-gas and electricity supply declined 2% to $1.8 trillion, a figure that represents 1.9% of global GDP, the Paris-based agency said in its annual report on spending trends and levels.

Why it matters

The report provides a snapshot of how the global energy system is evolving: Investments in electricity sector nonetheless exceeded investments oil-and-gas supply for the second time, "reflecting the ongoing electrification of the world’s economy and supported by robust investment in networks and renewable power," the agency said.

However, the gap has gotten narrower as oil-and-gas industry spending has rebounded somewhat from the sharp drops that followed the oil price collapse a few years ago.

Why IEA is worried

The growth of energy efficiency investments slowed, while total renewables investment fell by 7% and could drop more this year, the IEA said.

  • The report calls this slowdown in these low-carbon investments worrisome from a climate change standpoint because it's happening as investments in new nuclear generations are falling sharply, and are at their lowest levels in five years.
Quoted

IEA head Fatih Birol, in a statement alongside the report, called the efficiency and renewables trends a concern.

“This could threaten the expansion of clean energy needed to meet energy security, climate and clean-air goals. While we would need this investment to go up rapidly, it is disappointing to find that it might be falling this year."
One level deeper

A couple of other data points in the 253-page report that caught my eye...

Shale: The report shows how major integrated oil companies — think the Exxons and Chevrons of the world — are increasingly investing in shale and tight oil, the stuff tapped via fracking.

  • This year, tapping those resources is slated to account for 18% of their exploration and production spending, which is two to three times higher than it was in 2012-2016.

Carbon capture: The report underscores the challenges facing commercial deployment of technology to trap and store carbon emissions from industrial and power facilities.

  • From 2007-2017, $28 billion in public funding was provided for capital and operational support worldwide, but just 15% of that has been spent.
"Clearly, the design of public support programmes and associated policies has generally not made the commercial conditions sufficiently attractive for project developers to take advantage of available public funds and put their own money at risk."
— The report states

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.

4 hours ago - World

Sudan's military places civilian prime minister under house arrest

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were also detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

Why it matters: The arrests of the civilian faction in the Sudanese government came a day after U.S. envoy Jeffrey Feltman met with the head of the military faction of the Sudanese government General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and warned him against staging a coup.

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