More than 3,000 utility companies were studied and the research found that most of them are still heavily investing in fossil fuels even with efforts worldwide to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. Some of these utility companies are still currently expanding their portfolio of power plants that cause pollution.
Many of the utility companies are state-owned, and in recent years a majority of them have only made minor changes to their electricity generation portfolio.
In the study published in the Nature Energy research journal, only 10% of the utility firms are increasing their use of renewable energy sources at a faster rate than their coal or oil-powered capacity.
Of the companies that prioritize the growth of renewable energy, 60% have not stopped the expansion of their fossil fuel portfolio, and only 15% of them are active in reducing their coal and gas electricity sources.
The author of the report named Galina Alova stated the research highlights “a worrying gap between what is needed to tackle the climate crisis and what actions are being taken by the utility sector.”
The research also discovered that 10% of utility companies favored the growth of gas-powered electricity plants. These companies, in particular, are dominated by utilities in the United States that desire to take advantage of the shale gas reserves in the country, next is Russia and Germany.
Only 2% of these utility companies have active growth of their coal-powered electricity capacity ahead of gas or renewable energy. These companies are dominated by Chinese utilities, which by themselves contributed to more than 60% of companies that are focused on coal, next is India, then Vietnam.
The research finds the majority of companies that prioritize renewable energy are in Europe. Many of the utility industry’s largest companies are investing in green technology and low-carbon energy meant to replace their fossil fuel electricity plants that are fading away and getting old.
Coal plants in the United Kingdom, are shutting down at a pace that’s ahead of the government’s planned ban of coal-powered plants by 2025, partly because the country’s domestic carbon tax on power plants makes them inefficient to run and not profitable.
“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,” Galina Alova said.
“Utilities’ continued investment in fossil fuels leaves them at risk of stranded assets – where power plants will need to be retired early and undermine global efforts to tackle climate change.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.