Energy Future

High oil prices will boost renewables: Pro

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Oil price rise will give incentive for sustainable energy: Pro

Higher oil prices would help to incentivize research and development into renewable energy, according to Mark Lewis, senior analyst of sustainability research at Kepler Cheuvreux.

Brent crude futures traded just below $108 a barrel around midday on Thursday, up some $8 a barrel from this time last year.

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"You've got security of supply concerns, raised most recently…with the tensions in the east of Europe with Ukraine that has brought to the fore Europe's dependence on imported fossil fuels, and you've got continuing high oil prices," Lewis said.

Only recently Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, announced ambitious plans to build a $5 billion 'giga factory' that will produce up to 500,000 lithium batteries annually by 2020.

And with ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia highlighting Europe's dependency on imported fossil fuels, Lewis told CNBC that such a climate could make the development of renewables, such as lithium ion batteries, a more attractive proposition.

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"I think oil importing countries…really should be looking at battery technology, storage of energy, as the 'holy grail'," Lewis added. "This really is it, because if you can make the big breakthrough there, we really do start to see a change."

With oil prices high and major oil companies cutting back on capital expenditure levels, Lewis predicted that the appetite for renewables will gain momentum. "I think this is a real issue," Lewis said.

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"The oil companies are failing to make enough money even at current record high price levels, we've seen the oil companies start to cut back on their cap ex (capital expenditure) levels from the beginning of this year… which kind of tells you oil prices have to go higher, and that's where the incentive for developing this technology will come through," he added.

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