World Energy Investment 2019

Investing in our energy future

Abstract buildings

About this report

The International Energy Agency’s annual benchmark for tracking energy investment, World Energy Investment 2019, provides a full picture of today’s capital flows and what they might mean for tomorrow’s energy sector. It assesses whether the frameworks and strategies put in place by governments, the energy industry, and financial institutions are spurring timely investment, and how spending across sectors and technologies matches with the world’s energy security and sustainability needs. This year’s edition looks at trends in investment and financing in 2018 across all areas of energy supply, efficiency, and research & development, key markets and the sectors driving these trends, from electricity in Asia to fuel supply in North America, as well as the sectors and regions where energy capital flows are constrained. The analysis also examines how industry is responding to investment risks and opportunities, including through shorter-cycle oil and gas projects, financial risk management strategies for renewable power, financing models for energy efficiency, and in capital allocation decisions across sectors. And it looks at the implications of today’s trends, such as whether investment is sufficient to satisfy the world’s growing demand for energy, and whether enough capital is going into energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other low-carbon technologies to accelerate the pace of global energy transitions.

A better understanding of the risks faced by investors requires timely and authoritative data and analysis, which the IEA is providing with World Energy Investment 2019.

This year's report finds that global energy investment stabilised in 2018, ending three consecutive years of decline, as capital spending on oil, gas and coal supply bounced back while investment stalled for energy efficiency and renewables - clear signals of a growing mismatch between current trends and the paths to meeting the Paris Agreement and other sustainable development goals.

Key findings

Global energy investment in 2018


Global energy investment stabilised after 3 years of decline

Energy investment remained at USD 1.85 trillion in 2018 while a rise in fossil fuel supply investment offset lower power and stable efficiency spend. Despite the shift, power was the largest sector for the third year in a row.

Energy investment in the United States and China, 2016 compared to 2018


The largest investment growth was in the United States

In the past two years, energy investment in the United States has been catching up with China, mainly due to oil and gas supply and electricity networks, while China’s power sector spending has fallen.

Average time to market for conventional oil and gas projects, 2010-2018


Showing a preference for projects that deliver more quickly

In upstream oil and gas, and power generation, industry is bringing capacity to market 20% faster than at the start of the decade. In a changing energy system, industry is seeking to better manage capital at risk.

Average power generation construction time (capacity weighted), 2010-2018


Energy investment by scenario, 2025-2030


Energy supply investment needs to rise, whatever the scenario

Today’s capital allocation would need to shift rapidly towards cleaner sources and electricity networks in order to align with the Sustainable Development Scenario and the Paris Agreement. Under the New Policies Scenario, fuel supply and power each make up approximately 50% of average annual investment - in the Sustainable Development Scenario, power makes up 65%.

Final investment decisions for coal-fired generation, 2010-2018


Coal power investments are down, but the global fleet is still growing

Investment decisions for coal power are down 80% this decade, but the fleet continued to grow in Asia in 2018. Final investment decisions for unabated coal plants would need to quickly phase out to meet sustainability goals.

Net additions to coal-fired capacity, 2010-2018


Spending on energy RD&D by national governments, 2014-2018


Public energy RD&D spending is not expanding enough

While public energy RD&D spending rose modestly in 2018, led by the United States and China, most countries are not spending more of their economic output on energy research.

Spending on energy RD&D as of share of GDP in selected countries, 2014-2018