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According to the “World Energy Outlook 2012,” report recently released by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the largest global oil producer by 2020, and become a net oil exporter by 2030. The report also predicts that by 2015 the U.S. will surpass Russia as the biggest producer of natural gas. These predicted shifts are driven by the recent increases in U.S. oil and gas production, which were spurred by upstream technology developments like hydraulic fracturing. Fatih Birol, chief economist at IEA, told New York Times, “the agency’s prediction of increasing American self-sufficiency was 55 percent… [more]View Insight
Historically, widespread uptake of renewable energy has been limited by relatively high costs as compared to traditional energy sources. A 2011 IEA report argued that “renewable energy … is becoming cost-competitive in an increasingly broad range of circumstances, in some cases providing investment opportunities without the need for specific economic support.” Several recent trends, and recently announced business ventures, seem to support the IEA’s finding that some renewable energy sources are approaching cost-competitiveness. Prices for distributed solar have plummeted recently – due largely to economies of scale, government support and policy-driven demand – leading in 2011 to a record 1,855… [more]View Insight