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Energy spending climbs: Consumers fork out £7.8 trillion

The International Energy Agency has highlighted concerns over rising energy prices and inequalities, urging policies to safeguard affordability and fairness during clean energy transitions

Consumers globally paid nearly $10 trillion (£7.8tn) on energy in 2022, averaging over $1,200 (£944) per person.

According to the International Energy Agency’s new report, this figure represents a nearly 20% increase compared to the average spending over the previous five years.

Despite government subsidies and emergency support, high energy prices have been particularly pronounced for the poor and vulnerable, affecting both developing and advanced economies.

The report challenges two common misperceptions: firstly, that clean energy is to blame for rising costs, rather than the gas supply crunch caused by cuts in Russian gas deliveries to Europe; and secondly, the notion that clean energy technologies are always more expensive than fossil fuel-based alternatives, which is not supported by data.

However, the report acknowledges legitimate concerns about the risks to affordability during clean energy transitions and how these transitions will be funded and shared.

It underscores the need for policies to ensure access to the clean energy economy for lower income countries, communities and households.

Despite these challenges, the report highlights significant cost reductions in key clean technologies, making clean and efficient choices increasingly affordable.

Innovations, accelerated deployment, economies of scale and policy support have contributed to cost reductions, with renewable power, LED lighting and electric vehicles cited as examples.

In 2023, over 95% of new utility-scale solar photovoltaic installations and new onshore wind capacity had lower generation costs than new coal and natural gas plants.

The report emphasises the affordability of efficient appliances and heat pumps, with solar PV module prices reaching exceptionally low levels in recent years, creating affordable opportunities for various energy projects.

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