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Energy Transition

The overall pace of the transition has slowed, with economic volatility, heightened geopolitical tensions and technological shifts all having an impact. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

The global energy transition to a more equitable, secure and sustainable energy has lost momentum in the face of increasing uncertainty worldwide, according to a new World Economic Forum report

While 107 of the 120 countries benchmarked in the report demonstrated progress on their energy transition journeys in the past decade, the overall pace of the transition has slowed, with economic volatility, heightened geopolitical tensions and technological shifts all having an impact. However, increasing global investments in renewables and significant growth in energy transition performance in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade are positives.

Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2024, published in collaboration with Accenture, uses the Energy Transition Index (ETI) to benchmark 120 countries on the performance of their current energy systems, with a focus on balancing equity, environmental sustainability and energy security, and on their transition-readiness.

“We must ensure that the energy transition is equitable, in and across emerging and developed economies,” said Roberto Bocca, head of the Centre for Energy and Materials, World Economic Forum. “Transforming how we produce and consume energy is critical to success. We need to act on three key levers for the energy transition urgently: reforming the current energy system to reduce its emissions, deploying clean energy solutions at scale, and reducing energy intensity per unit of GDP.”

Europe leads the rankings

Europe continues to lead the ETI rankings, with the top 10 list for 2024 fully composed of countries from that region. Sweden comes top, followed by Denmark, Finland, Switzerland and France.These countries benefit from high political commitment, strong investments in research and development, expanded clean energy adoption – accelerated by the regional geopolitical situation, energy-efficiency policies and carbon pricing.
China and Brazil have advanced significantly in recent years, primarily driven by long-term efforts to increase the share of clean energy and enhance their grid reliability.

The gap in overall ETI scores has narrowed between advanced and developing economies, although clean energy investment continues to be concentrated in advanced economies and China. This underscores the need for financial support from advanced nations to facilitate an equitable energy transition in emerging and developing nations and forward-thinking policy-making in all nations to foster conducive investment conditions.

Over the past decade, the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan region has seen a 7% growth in its ETI score, which has stagnated in the last three years, according to the report, a significant barrier being the decline in finance and investment over this period. The region’s heavy reliance on oil revenues poses a challenge for a sustainable energy transition. Its regional score lags behind all regions except sub-Saharan Africa.

While the world remains off-track to meet net-zero ambitions by 2050 and limit global warming to no more than 1.5C, there has been notable progress in energy efficiency and an increase in the adoption of clean energy sources.

Innovation is a key enabling factor for the energy transition and can reduce costs, scale key technologies, renew and reskill the workforce and attract investments, the report stresses. Digital innovations, including generative AI, offer significant opportunities to reinvent the energy industry by enhancing productivity. Generative AI's ability to analyse vast quantities of data can provide innovative forecasts and solutions, or streamline existing operations to increase efficiencies, among other benefits. However, it will be crucial to responsibly and equitably address the risks and challenges posed by these technologies.

“C-suites consistently tell us a clear business case is a prerequisite for attracting investments in the energy transition, especially in the face of higher interest rates and the emerging talent shortage," said Muqsit Ashraf, group chief executive, Accenture Strategy. "We believe that a strong digital core, enabled by generative AI, can boost productivity, enhancing returns and talent availability and unlocking a new wave of investments.”

The joint venture aims to accelerate carbon capture for industrial decarbonisation at scale. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

SLB and Aker Carbon Capture have announced the closing of their joint venture designed to accelerate carbon capture adoption

The new company will combine ACC’s amine-based Advanced Carbon Capture technologies, including Just Catch and Big Catch modular plant technologies for medium- and large-scale facilities, and Just Catch Offshore for offshore gas turbines, with SLB’s portfolio of technology solutions, including non-aqueous solvent and emerging sorbent-based offerings. The company, of which SLB owns 80% with ACC ASA owning the remaining 20%, currently has seven technology installations in progress with the capacity to capture up to 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

“There is no credible pathway toward net zero without deploying carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) at scale,” said Gavin Rennick, president of SLB’s New Energy business. “In the next few decades, many industries that are crucial to our modern world must rapidly adopt CCS to decarbonise. Through the joint venture, we are excited to accelerate disruptive carbon capture technologies globally.”

“There is no business as usual in the push toward net zero – we will accelerate decarbonisation today and commercialise innovative technologies for the future,” said Egil Fagerland, newly appointed chief executive officer of the new joint venture.

“We are proud of the carbon capture plants we are delivering across various industries, with each customer being an important front-runner in its segment. Successful project deliveries are paving the way for other emitters to follow.”

DNV’s Technology Centre in Groningen plays a pivotal role in tackling the challenges of CO2 flow metrology to advance projects related to CCUS. (Image source: DNV)

DNV, the independent energy expert and assurance provider, has initiated CO2MET, a joint industry project (JIP) to establish traceable flow standards for CCUS

The project brings toegether equipment suppliers, major transmission system operators and exploration and production companies.

As demonstrated by a DNV study, there are currently significant gaps in demonstrating compliance with CO2 metrology for the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) and other international regulations, with two significant challenges being the absence of an officially recognised and traceable standard for measuring CO2 volume under dynamic conditions for gas, liquid, and dense phase CO2; and the lack of flow laboratories conducting research and calibrations under the necessary process conditions.

The JIP is divided into two initiatives:
1. CO2MET Gas: Centered around gas applications, this project is expected to conclude in June 2024.
2. CO2MET LIQ: Focusing on conditions related to liquid, dense, and supercritical CO2, this project requires the design and construction of a new facility at DNV’s Technology Centre in Groningen to enable the development of traceable flow standards. First results are anticipated by the end of 2024, with current participants including Shell, TotalEnergies, Equinor, Gasunie, Santos, Inpex, and Gassco. New participants are welcome to join.

"As the world advances towards decarbonisation, DNV is proud to lead the establishment of essential standards for CO2 metering to ensure the global success of CCUS initiatives. By convening industry stakeholders to develop trusted guidelines, recommended practices, and standards, we ensure the reliable operation of critical assets and systems. This involves setting operational limits and ensuring performance throughout the lifespan of industrial assets," explained Prajeev Rasiah, executive vice president and regional director Northern Europe, Energy Systems at DNV.

“DNV’s Technology Centre in Groningen plays a pivotal role in tackling the challenges of CO2 flow metrology to advance projects related to CCUS," added Rene Bahlmann, head of Section for DNV's Technology Centre Groningen, Energy Systems at DNV.

The first phase of the ACCS project intends to capture carbon emissions from Aramco gas plant facilities near Jubail, as well as from third-party emitters. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Wood has completed the front-end engineering and design (FEED) scope for the first phase of Aramco’s Accelerated Carbon Capture and Sequestration (ACCS) project in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, which is being developed with partners SLB and Linde

The Jubail CCs hub set to be the world’s largest carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) hub upon completion in 2027, with the capacity to capture nine million metric tonnes of CO2 and sequester them within onshore geological storage.

Key role in reducing emissions

Aramco sees CCS as playing a key role in global efforts to reduce emissions. The first phase of the ACCS project intends to capture carbon emissions from Aramco gas plant facilities near Jubail, on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, as well as from third-party emitters.

Wood designed the greenfield dehydration and compression facilities and the large pipeline network, including a 200+ km dense-phase CO2 pipeline for the ACCS project, designed to transport the emissions. Aramco plans to store up to 14 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of CO2 equivalent by 2035 – contributing towards the Kingdom reaching its CCUS goal of 44 MTPA by 2035.

Craig Shanaghey, Wood’s executive president of Projects, said, “We are proud to be at the forefront of designing the future of energy by leveraging our 20 years of experience in carbon capture engineering to bring the ACCS project to life, supporting Aramco as our long-term client on its energy security and transition ambitions.

“The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has underlined the significant role CCS can potentially play in helping to reach the 2-degree goal set out in the Paris Agreement, and it is investments like this world-leading project that can support that progress and make a tangible difference to reduce the carbon emissions of heavy industries.”

A significant wave of new investment in LNG is expected in the coming years. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Global upstream oil and gas investment is expected to increase by 7% in 2024 to reach US$570bn, following a similar rise in 2023, according to the IEA’s latest World Energy Investment report

The growth in oil and gas spending in 2023 and 2024 is dominated by national oil companies in the Middle East and Asia. NOCs are set to provide over 40% of global upstream spending in 2024, compared with less than 25% in 2015, and NOCs in the Middle East and Asia have been responsible for nearly all the increase in investment in 2023 and 2024. This includes investment by PetroChina to explore for conventional resources and develop tight liquids and gas basins, Saudi Aramco’s push to meet its expanded gas production target, and new sour gas field developments in the UAE

A significant wave of new investment is expected in LNG in the coming years as new liquefaction plants are built, mainly in the USA and Qatar.

Clean energy investment by oil and gas companies reached US$30bn in 2023, accounting for only 4% of the industry’s overall capital spending, according to the report.

Global clean energy investment growing strongly

However, global investment in clean energy is set to be almost double the amount going to fossil fuels in 2024, helped by improving supply chains and lower costs for clean technologies. Total energy investment worldwide is expected to exceed US$3trillion in 2024, with some US$2 trillion set to go toward clean technologies, according to the report. In 2024, investment in solar PV is set to grow to US$500bn, boosted by the fall in module prices.

China is set to account for the largest share of clean energy investment in 2024, reaching an estimated US$675bn, followed by Europe and the USA, with clean energy investment of US$370bn and US$315bn respectively. The new report highlights however the low level of clean energy spending in emerging and developing economies (outside China), with the high cost of capital being a key constraint.

“Clean energy investment is setting new records even in challenging economic conditions, highlighting the momentum behind the new global energy economy. For every dollar going to fossil fuels today, almost two dollars are invested in clean energy,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

“More must be done to ensure that investment reaches the places where it is needed most, in particular the developing economies where access to affordable, sustainable and secure energy is severely lacking today.”

Energy investment in the Middle East is expected to reach approximately US$175bn in 2024, with fossil fuels predominating and clean energy accounting for only around 15% of total investment.

“The region’s power sector holds a distinct opportunity for increasing investment in clean energy technologies, notably for solar PV,” the report notes.

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