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New Study: Utility Companies Undermining Global Energy Transition

New University of Oxford research shows that electric utility companies around the world are continuing to invest heavily in fossil-fuel-based power generation, resulting in a missed opportunity for progress on global climate commitments.

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The study was recently published in Nature Energy. It is the first to investigate electric utilities on a global scale, using a machine-learning technique. More than 3,000 companies around the world were analysed during the last two decades to publish the results.

"This research highlights a worrying gap between what is needed to stop global warming, and what actions are being taken by the utility sector," explains Galina Alova, study author and researcher at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. "Although there have been a few high-profile examples of individual electric utilities investing in renewables, this study shows that overall, the sector is making the transition to clean energy slowly or not at all."

While many countries and businesses have committed to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, utilities remain committed to their conventional fossil-fuel-dominated activities, the University of Oxford says. While independent power producers are leading the penetration of renewables, traditional utilities lag behind.

"Utilities’ continued investment in fossil fuels leaves them at risk of stranded assets – where power plants will need to be retired early – and undermines global efforts to tackle climate change," says Alova.

She maintains: "The global transition to a low carbon future might be further jeopardised by the strain that COVID-19 pandemic has put on public and private finance, as well as supply chains, resulting in delay or cancellation of new renewable energy projects. This could be especially detrimental to developing countries that are dependent on green development finance."





University of Oxford
Windfair Editors
University of Oxford, utility, research, global, electricity company, investment, fossil-fuel, coal, gas, renewables, 2050, net zero, carbon emissions

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