As of this week 155 countries have submitted plans for the COP21 climate change summit to be held by the United Nations in Paris this December. These submissions cover 88% of global CO2 emissions and include the submissions of the US, China and India. Combined, they commit the world to a reduction in fossil fuel demand by 30% to 40% over the next 20 years, with a goal of net zero emissions by 2080. The International Energy Agency says the COP21 pledges will require $13.5 trillion of energy-saving and low carbon investments over the next fifteen years. 70% of all new electric power on Earth will come from low-carbon sources, such as solar, wind and nuclear.

The world’s largest oil companies such as Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP have slashed their combined spending by more than $30 billion in the past year and this trend seems likely to continue into the next year as crude oil prices are forecast to remain low.

Investment banker Goldman Sachs commented that the growing glut of distillates in Europe and parts of the US  is reaching the limits of storage capacity in those regions and could push gasoline and diesel prices lower in the coming months.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it wants to achieve a target of 24% of its energy coming from low carbon sources by 2021. In 2014 low-carbon energy contributed merely o.2% of this region’s energy mix. The UAE expects to meet its target through a combination of renewable energy projects, energy conservation, new energy efficiency standards for buildings and consumers, stricter emission standards for vehicles, expanded use of rail, and a new fuel pricing policy.

In large parts of Africa it is cheaper and quicker to install micro-grids based on solar power than to bother with large fossil fuel power stations to generate electricity.

According to a new study by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, wind power is now the cheapest source electricity in both the UK and Germany, even without government subsidies. Currently, around 10% of the UK’s electricity is generated by wind.

UK electricity prices are now the highest in the Europe and 52% more than median prices on the European Continent, surpassing both Ireland and Spain for the first time. The typical British household pays 14.8 pence for every unit of electricity or “kilowatt hour” (kWh) they use, before taxes are taken into account, according to analysis by the Department for Energy & Climate Change. By contrast, the pre-tax price in Denmark is just 9.35 pence/kWh and 5.75 pence/kWh in Bulgaria, according to the data collected by Eurostat. Over the course of a year, the average household in Britain will spend £481 on electricity.

Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating. Demand for cold is being driven by a rapidly expanding middle class in the developing economies. It took 15 years for the number of air-conditioned homes in the US to grow from 64 million to 100 million – but 50 million new domestic AC units were purchased in China in 2010 alone. The proportion of Chinese homes with refrigerators also soared, from 7% in 1995 to 95% in 2007. Now demand for AC is increasing rapidly in other parts of south and southeast Asia.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that Saudi Arabian subsidies to provide low-cost electricity, natural gas and transportation fuel to its population is costing $107 billion a year or $3,395 per person. Saudis pay about 15 U.S. cents per litre for gasoline.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved its first nuclear power plant in almost 20 years. The reactor, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority in Spring City, Tennessee, should reach full power within a few months.

In 2014, 5037 plug-in electric vehicles were purchased in Canada accounting for 0.27% of all vehicles sold.  As of September of this year, 4216 plug-in EVs were purchased, representing 0.29% of all vehicle sales.

By mid-September 2015, over one million highway legal plug-in electric passenger cars and light utility vehicles have been sold worldwide. This represented less than 0.1% of the world’s stock of motor vehicles, estimated at 1.2 billion vehicles by mid 2014. The United States is the leading market with a stock of over 363,000 plug-in electric cars. China ranked second with over 157,000 units followed by Japan with more than 121,000 plug-in units.

 

with h/t Tom Whipple and Fred

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