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The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

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The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

The Periodic Table of Commodity Returns

At the beginning of each year, U.S. Global Investors puts out a fantastic visualization called the Periodic Table of Commodity Returns. This year’s version has an interactive design that allows users to sort returns by various categories including returns, volatility, and other groupings.

For those keeping score, 2015 was a historically bad year for commodities in almost every regard.

Base Metals: The fact that lead was the best performing commodity with -3.5% returns throughout 2015 is not a good sign. However, compared to its fellow base metals such as copper (-26.1%), zinc (-26.5%), aluminum (-17.8%), and nickel (-41.8%), lead did wonderfully in comparison.

Precious Metals: Gold held in there as a relative top-performer with only a -10.4% dip. That said, it’s started off 2016 with a nice rally so far. Silver, platinum, and palladium did worse in 2015, all returning -11.8%, -26.1%, and -29.4% respectively.

Energy: The worst performing commodity of 2014 was the second-worst performing commodity of 2015. Oil was been routed in the last two years, with -45.6% and -30.5% returns respectively. Other fossil fuels have followed, with natural gas (-19.1%) and coal (-10.8%) both losing ground in 2015 as well.

Food: Corn was among the “best” performers, returning -9.6%. Wheat struggled more throughout 2015, returning -20.3%.

Deflating commodity prices also compounded with a strengthening dollar to hit currency markets hard, allowing Bitcoin to become the best performing currency of 2015 by far. Countries heavily reliant on commodity exports such as Canada, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Australia, Norway, and South Africa had their currencies hammered in relation to the U.S. dollar.

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Energy

Visualized: Renewable Energy Capacity Through Time (2000–2023)

This streamgraph shows the growth in renewable energy capacity by country and region since 2000.

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The preview image for a streamgraph showing the change in renewable energy capacity over time by country and region.

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The following content is sponsored by National Public Utilities Council

Visualized: Renewable Energy Capacity Through Time (2000–2023)

Global renewable energy capacity has grown by 415% since 2000, or at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.4%.

However, many large and wealthy regions, including the United States and Europe, maintain lower average annual renewable capacity growth.

This chart, created in partnership with the National Public Utilities Council, shows how each world region has contributed to the growth in renewable energy capacity since 2000, using the latest data release from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Renewable Energy Trends in Developed Economies

Between 2000 and 2023, global renewable capacity increased from 0.8 to 3.9 TW. This was led by China, which added 1.4 TW, more than Africa, Europe, and North America combined. Renewable energy here includes solar, wind, hydro (excluding pumped storage), bioenergy, geothermal, and marine energy.

During this period, capacity growth in the U.S. has been slightly faster than what’s been seen in Europe, but much slower than in China. However, U.S. renewable growth is expected to accelerate due to the recent implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Overall, Asia has shown the greatest regional growth, with China being the standout country in the continent.

Region2000–2023 Growth10-Year Growth (2013–2023)1-Year Growth (2022–2023)
Europe313%88%10%
China1,817%304%26%
United States322%126%9%
Canada57%25%2%

It’s worth noting that Canada has fared significantly worse than the rest of the developed world since 2000 when it comes to renewable capacity additions. Between 2000 and 2023, the country’s renewable capacity grew only by 57%.  

Trends in Developing Economies

Africa’s renewable capacity has grown by 184% since 2000 with a CAGR of 4%. 

India is now the most populous country on the planet, and its renewable capacity is also rapidly growing. From 2000–2023, it grew by 604%, or a CAGR of 8%.

It is worth remembering that energy capacity is not always equivalent to power generation. This is especially the case for intermittent sources of energy, such as solar and wind, which depend on natural phenomena.

Despite the widespread growth of renewable energy worldwide, IRENA emphasizes that global renewable generation capacity must triple from its 2023 levels by 2030 to meet the ambitious targets set by the Paris Agreement.

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