2022 has been an eventful year for energy. The world’s economies are still recovering from the lingering effects of Covid-19, and millions of people across the world have been faced with the impacts of severe economic shocks, with governments scrambling to find solutions. There’s no question that it’s been an uncertain and difficult period for countless people, especially those dealing with unstable governments, political deadlocks, and devastating wars.
However, there are rays of hope. A huge range of countries across the globe are still hard at work on their renewable energy infrastructures – with more businesses than ever choosing commercial solar panels, for example – and the sector’s global job market is expanding accordingly. Plus, the scenes on display this year at the ‘Conference of Parties’ (COP27), demonstrated that the public will for a greener future is stronger than ever – now it’s up to leaders to deliver it.
Obviously, it’s all quite a lot to keep up with. So here at Low Carbon Energy, we’ve rounded up five of the year’s biggest stories in energy. You may already be familiar with at least one or two…
Rise in energy prices
You didn’t necessarily have to read the headlines to notice this one. The vast majority of the UK has felt the squeeze of rising energy prices in one way or another. As for why they’re all rising now… well, there’s no one single answer, rather a number of different factors combining to create a perfect storm.
The world’s major economies are still all climbing out of their pandemic-induced recessions, leading to a surge in demand for energy from historic lows. Northern Europe in particular had to deal with a notable cold winter, depleting international supplies – not helped by the fact that our storage capacities are especially low here in the UK. The situation was further complicated by concerns over increasingly intermittent gas supplies from Russia in light of its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, prompting countries across the globe to try and reduce or eliminate their reliance on Russian oil and gas.
Notably, many have instead focused with even greater enthusiasm in improving their renewable energy capacity. Solar energy, for example, is well-known for its ability to provide greater energy security for individual homeowners and businesses – although obviously it’s a little more demanding to roll out on a national scale!
Renewable energy jobs rise to nearly 13 million worldwide
Despite the global energy prices (or because of it, depending on who you ask), the global renewable job market continues to grow at an incredible pace. According to a UN report released in September of this year, worldwide employment in the renewable energy sector reached 12.7 million last year. That’s a jump of about 700,000 new jobs in just the last 12 months.
Solar energy was identified as the fastest growing sector, providing 4.3 million jobs alone in 2021. That’s more than a third of the current global workforce in global energy.
In fact, we’re proud to be contributing to that ourselves here at Low Carbon Energy – we currently have a variety of roles available on our Careers page, and one of our recent posts goes into a little more depth about the kind of culture that new staff can expect here in our offices!
Renewable power breaks another global record in 2022
New capacity of generating electricity from solar, wind and other renewables increased to a record level across the globe in 2021, and grew even further this year. As far back as May, solar PV was already on track to account for 60% of global renewable power growth in 2022, followed first by wind and then by hydropower.
That excellent growth was actually faster than most people initially expected, with its strong performance boosted by fervent policy support from China, the European Union, and Latin America. The US solar industry didn’t perform quite as well, but American industry figures have made it clear that they’re determined to make up for that. This outstanding growth also makes it all the more competitive in the face of prices rises affecting natural gas and other fossil fuel alternatives.
However, while renewables have seen record breaking-growth this year, the unfortunate flipside is that fossil fuel emissions have reached record levels too. And that leads us neatly on to…
COP27 and the 1.5C degree target
This year’s UN climate summit, the 27th Conference of All Parties (COP27), was a high-stakes affair, and its legacy is mixed. Bad news first – one of the first notable results is that we’ve now likely missed the target of limiting global warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius. It sounds small, but experts are unanimous in their predictions that this will cause dramatic environmental consequences, with severe events like droughts, floods and crop failures more likely – especially in developing countries.
While the 1.5C target is not yet physically possible, observers have said that it’s almost certainly ‘politically impossible’. The event was notable for having large delegations of fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance – over 600 of them, more than any actual national delegation – and some of the top oil-producing countries and big emitters attempting to water down commitments on fossil fuels.
There were some small encouraging signs though. Brazil and Australia are now both making conscious efforts to rehabilitate their image as climate pariahs in the eyes of the rest of the world – especially Brazil, whose new leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has pledged to reverse the worrying deforestation of his country’s Amazon rainforests.
And while this may mark a notable shift in global efforts from prevention to adaptation and mitigation, there has been a notable victory for developing countries…
Rich nations agree to financial restitution for poor countries
For a long time, one of the most controversial recurring discussions at historic COPs has been that developed countries are causing the most environmental damage, but it’s the developing countries that are paying the price, given that so many are far more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. One stark example brought up at the conference was Pakistan’s recent devastating floods, which were demonstrably linked to climate change.
In recognition of this, the world’s richer countries finally agreed on a climate support package, or a ‘loss and damage fund’ to help rescue and rebuild poorer countries coping with the most dramatic instances of climate related disasters. It’s a massive achievement for those who’ve been asking for it since the very first COP back in 1992, and it’s worth noting that it’s also something that the UK’s own population supports.
However, America and European countries came in for heavy criticism, even though the deal was signed. That’s partially because oil producing countries stepped in to modify the language on the final text, weakening the ultimate commitment to 1.5C. The EU was also accused of making a U-turn at the 11th hour, which left campaigners unimpressed.
Still though, it was a big victory for developing countries, and while the outlook for some observers is (quite fairly) pessimistic, this achievement alone is enough to make COP27 the moment of a long-awaited triumph.
These are just some of the biggest stories of the year, but obviously the list is by no means exhaustive! With only a few weeks left in 2022, we can only hope that 2023 proves to be a less challenging year for the world – and in the meantime, personally here at Low Carbon Energy, we’re committed to doing what we can to making it a better place.
Our own passion about the climate crisis is a big part of what drives our mission to help you revolutionise your own energy supply.
Our experts have over 30 years of combined experience, having helped SMEs and large corporations across a wide variety of sectors transform their business’ energy supply. Each of our installations is bespoke, and we tailor your solution on your specific energy profile, helping us to maximise carbon reductions and save you up to thousands of pounds in energy bills.
Feel free to look at our case studies for just a few examples of businesses which have reaped huge rewards from solar, such as Boeing and Irish Water. To find out how we can help you, feel free to give us a call today on 01282 421 489!