IEA: ‘Global electricity demand is growing faster than renewables’
Renewable energy is expanding quickly but not fast enough to satisfy the strong rebound in global electricity demand this year. The result is a sharp rise in the use of coal power that risks pushing carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector to record levels next year. That is the conclusion of a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Households need more energy now that the economy is recovering from the corona crisis. In 2020, electricity consumption decreased by 1%. This year, the IEA expects a global need of 5% more, and 4% in 2022. The majority of the increase in electricity demand is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region, mainly China and India.
Although renewable energy – from solar panels, wind farms, and hydro-electric power stations – is on the rise (+8% in 2021, and more than 6% in 2022), it will not be enough to meet the increased demand. This means that more energy needs to be produced by fossil fuels like gas and coal.
A direct consequence is that the electricity sector will emit more CO2. Carbon emissions from the electricity sector, which fell in 2019 and 2020, are forecast to increase by 3,5% in 2021 and 2,5% by 2022, which would take them to an all-time high.
Clean energy technologies
“Renewable energy’s growth is spectacular, but still not sufficient to achieve a zero-emission level by mid-century,” says Keisuke Sadamori, chief energy markets at IEA. “We need to massively step up investments in clean energy technologies.”
The IEA emphasizes that in the last two years, the offer of renewable electricity increased more than the demand for energy.
Since the IEA’s last Electricity Market Report in December 2020, extreme cold, heat, and drought have caused serious strains and disruptions to electricity systems across the globe. In response, the IEA is establishing an Electricity Security Event Scale to track and classify major power outages, based on the duration of the disruption and the number of affected customers.