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Environment

Global energy markets in turmoil, International Energy Agency says

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
November 20, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 46

The world’s energy systems are being transformed, driven by rapid deployment and falling prices of renewable energy sources, more dependence on electricity for energy needs, a shift to a cleaner services-based economy, and a flood of oil and natural gas from the U.S., according to the International Energy Agency’s “World Energy Outlook 2017”. The annual report shows the U.S. is now the undisputed leader in oil and natural gas production and export. A predicted doubling of liquid natural gas shipments will allow the world to take advantage of this natural gas availability. Because natural gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal when burned for fuel, it helps limit climate change, IEA notes. However, that benefit is lost if methane, a strong greenhouse gas and the primary compound in natural gas, leaks during production. The report predicts 30% growth in electricity demand worldwide by 2040. Two-thirds of the growth is anticipated in Asia, largely because of demand in China and India, but the report also shows huge gains for energy efficiency in those countries and worldwide. Renewable energy sources, particularly solar, are rising sharply and displacing coal.

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