IEA: £23 trillion investment needed to keep lights on worldwide by 2035

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Lights could go out across the globe unless a staggering $48 trillion (£28 trillion) is invested in energy provision according to a stark warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The leading international energy think tank warned that due to the world's population continuing to grow at a rapid pace, the global blackout could happen by 2035 without adequate investment into the energy sector.

The IEA World Energy Outlook report claimed investment of around $2 trillion a year would be required over the next few decades.

International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, said: "The reliability and sustainability of our future energy system depends on investment.

"But this won't materialise unless there are credible policy frameworks in place as well as stable access to long-term sources of finance.

"Neither of these conditions should be taken for granted. There is a real risk of shortfalls, with knock-on effects on regional or global energy security, as well as the risk that investments are misdirected because environmental impacts are not properly reflected in prices."

A huge chunk of the $48 trillion figure would have to be invested in finding new sources of energy, extracting and refining fossil fuels and power generation. The rest would need to be invested in achieving greater energy efficiency.

Investment in energy efficiency alone would have to rise from $130bn to a colossal $550bn by 2035 the IEA report claims.

For Europe, the risk of a blackout lies in the nature of industry the IEA warned with the thinktank's chief economist, Fatih Birol stating bluntly: "In Europe we are facing the risk of the lights going off. This is not a joke."

Mr Birol has suggested the EU is set to lose a quarter of its electricity in the next ten years alone as old, predominately fossil fuel, power stations are shut down.

The major problem lies left in the fact it is now becoming harder to run new projects.

Mr Birol added: "Wholesale power prices are 20% below recovery costs so there is no appetite to invest. Europe needs to look at the design of its energy market very closely."

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