Global Outlook 2018: The energy revolution and its growing uncertainties
How fast the world moves toward cleaner energy hinges on several difficult-to-predict factors, including climate change policies, the glut in oil and gas markets and disruptive technologies. What seems sure is that renewable energy sources won’t overtake fossil fuels in the medium term and that natural gas will loom larger in geopolitical conflicts.
GIS Dossier: Nuclear energy
The 2011 Fukushima disaster brought nuclear energy development programs around the world to a screeching halt – temporarily. Though Germany plans to fully phase out nuclear power production, Japan has brought several reactors back online, and other countries have restarted construction on nuclear plants. These developments have had huge geopolitical effects: Germany’s fossil fuel imports from Russia have grown, while China has found an opening to increase its sway on four continents by financing nuclear projects.
North Korea crisis reveals true nature of Russia-China relationship
Many people seem to believe that China and Russia have a close relationship and can work together to solve issues the United States struggles with. But Moscow’s failure to inform Beijing of a U.S. strike in Syria and Russia’s energy exports to North Korea tell a different story.
China won’t save global climate protection policies
China has made big strides in greening its energy sector. But while some hope this means the country can become a new leader in the fight against global climate change, Beijing’s goals are different. The moves it is making now are aimed at putting China in an advantageous geopolitical position, especially in terms of trade. Moreover, its momentum on the green energy front may not be sustainable.
Risks for China’s energy strategy
China faces three big challenges in its energy strategy: reducing pollution, mitigating the negative effects of climate change and securing overland supply. The country has made huge investments to achieve its goals, but macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainties could yet derail Beijing’s plans. In the end, China is likely to be successful, but will have to deftly manage its energy policies and alliances.
Germany’s energy policy requires correction
The German government aims to increase the share of renewable energy in the country’s total electric power consumption from some 30 percent today to 45 percent by 2025. This aggressive drive toward Energiewende has already caused serious instability in the country’s electricity generation system and pushed energy prices upward. In the longer term, the policy endangers Germany’s position as Europe’s prime manufacturing nation. Fortunately, citizens have begun to take notice.
China at the center of global energy change
A sluggish world economy and sustained improvement in energy efficiency caused growth in global energy consumption to slow to 1 percent in 2015, well below the 10-year average of 1.9 percent. Taking a closer look, one country stands out: China. Its changing economy shaped the dynamics of global energy last year and this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
China’s slowdown could bring environmental benefits
Beijing is eager to use China’s economic slowdown as a means to improve the country’s environment. The slower growth gives the government maneuverability to address some of the country’s most pressing environmental problems. Nevertheless, doubts remain as to whether authorities are truly committed to green issues or are merely saving face. Lacking rapid economic growth to appease the populace, the government must address the other concerns, such as the environment.