Investing in energy is a complex and ever-evolving process. With the Paris Agreement and the push for zero net emissions, there is an increasing demand for renewable energy sources and strategies to reduce emissions. There are a variety of investment strategies available, from solar photovoltaic energy to fossil fuels, and from utility-scale projects to distributed photovoltaic solar systems. Additionally, investments in minerals and metals are becoming increasingly important for energy transitions.
In order to move towards a sustainable future, investments must be made in all aspects of energy transitions, including efficiency, clean electricity, and clean fuels. The Middle East is leading the way in investing in energy, with start-ups planning to spend more on different parts of the oil and gas industry. Solar photovoltaic energy is the most popular form of renewable energy investment, with spending divided equally between utility-scale projects and distributed photovoltaic solar systems. Investment in fossil fuels is on the rise, but still lags behind what it was when the Paris Agreement was signed. Europe's move away from Russian gas has placed new demands on LNG markets, but the implications for new LNG investments are complicated by the long construction and amortization periods. In order to reach zero net emissions by 2050, the electricity sector must grow at an annual rate of more than 25% for the rest of this decade.
This strategy should also address maintaining a stable investment climate for private sector participation in energy, developing expanded transmission and distribution networks to supply energy to customers, maintaining a solvent buyer, maintaining rates that reflect costs, and reducing inefficiency in the sector to support more affordable rates for end users. Investment in many emerging and developing economies depends more on public sources; state-owned companies account for about half of energy investment in these economies. Similarly, infrastructure strategies must balance investments in all sectors to avoid concentration on energy-related industries, such as oil pipelines and public services. For the first time this year, WEI includes a detailed review of investment trends in minerals and metals that are vital to energy transitions. There are also signs that the group of investors in the sector is expanding as vehicle and battery manufacturers (including Volkswagen, Tesla, CATL and LG Energy Solution) are directly involved in the extraction and processing of critical minerals to protect their production lines. Investing in coal requires much less capital than oil and gas, and has been less subject to large year-on-year variations. Accelerating investment in all aspects of energy transitions in developing economies must be a top priority for international financial institutions, their donors, multilateral development banks and many other actors. At the same time, natural resource strategies that invest in these companies have vastly outperformed the general market.
Despite the dramatic impact of recent energy price movements on stock markets, investors should be careful to introduce short-term tactical movements in their portfolios. Investing in improving efficiency is another important area of growth driven by rising fuel prices and government incentives. If investment in clean energy does not recover quickly in emerging and developing economies, the world will face an important dividing line in efforts to address climate change and achieve other sustainable development goals. However, durable solutions to the current crisis lie in accelerating transitions to clean energy through greater investment in efficiency, clean electricity and a range of clean fuels.