Almost nine in ten companies in the G20 countries shifted their energy investment strategies towards greener technologies in the past 12 months, according to a survey by an international law firm.

Ashurst polled more than 2,000 senior executives who make energy investment decisions in their businesses — a mixture of operators, investors and users of energy — and found that 88% said their organisation’s investment strategy had “changed in response to the energy transition” in the past year, according to the report, entitled Powering Change: Energy in Transition.

A further nine per cent said they intended to do so in the next 12 months, while 2% said they would do so in the longer term and only 1% said they would not, Ashurst tells Recharge, providing figures not included in the report.

On a slightly different question, 94% of respondents said they expected their organisation’s investment in the energy transition to increase over the next five years, with an average expected increase of 43% “in dollar terms”.

The survey says that the most favoured renewable power generation source for investment was solar, with 74% of respondents actively considering investing in the technology, followed by hydro, then offshore wind, biomass, and onshore wind in a lowly sixth place (the exact figures are not revealed).

Of the “decarbonisation technologies”, the most favoured investment was electric vehicles, followed by smart meters, hydrogen, battery storage and carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), although, again, the exact figures are not revealed.

In total, 96% of respondents said their companies felt under pressure to respond to the climate crisis, with 37% feeling extreme pressure, 45% describing it as “significant” and 14% as “slight”. The greatest source of this pressure was government, the survey found, with 53% saying they felt extreme pressure from their country’s leaders.

Ashurst notes that the study was conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic and the oil price crash, but adds: "However, we believe the fundamentals of the market and prospects for the clean energy transition will remain largely unchanged longer-term."

It concludes the report by saying: “This research… has shown categorically that the energy transition is not a fad or a piece of political jargon. It is the centrepiece of many companies’ global investment strategies and its prominence will keep growing.

“The energy transition will not be easy, but the desire to make it happen is clear. Investing in tackling climate change is going to be a key differentiator for businesses in the 2020s.”