Global electricity demand is expected to see a growth of 5% this year with almost half the increase met by fossil fuels, notably coal, threatening to push CO2 emissions from the power sector to record levels in 2022, according to a new report by International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday.
IEA's Electricity Market Report revealed that renewables are expanding quickly but not enough to satisfy a strong rebound in global electricity demand this year and 4% in 2022.
Global electricity demand fell by about 1% last year due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The majority of the increase in electricity demand is expected to come from the Asia Pacific region, driven by China and India.
Electricity generation from renewables is on track to grow strongly worldwide by 8% in 2021 and over 6% in 2022 however, renewables will only be able to meet around half of the projected increase in global electricity demand over those year even with this strong growth, the report said.
"Renewable growth has exceeded demand growth in only two years: 2019 and 2020. But in those cases, it was largely due to exceptionally slow or declining demand, suggesting that renewables outpacing the rest of the electricity sector is not yet the new normal," said in the report.
Fossil fuel-based electricity generation, notably coal, is set to cover 45% of additional demand this year and 40% in 2022.
This could bring CO2 emissions from the electricity sector to an all-time high level with an increase of 3.5% in 2021 and 2.5% in 2022, the IEA warned.
Nuclear power will account for the rest of the demand, according to the report.
"Renewable power is growing impressively in many parts of the world, but it still isn’t where it needs to be to put us on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century," Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA director of energy markets and security, was quoted as saying in the report.
"As the economy rebounds after the pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in electrical generation from fossil fuels. To shift to a sustainable trajectory, we need to massively step up investment in clean energy technologies – especially renewables and energy efficiency."
According to IEA's Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050 published in May, nearly 75% of global emissions reductions between 2020 and 2025 take place in the electricity sector.
"To achieve this decline, the pathway calls for coal-fired electricity generation to fall by more than 6% a year. However, coal-fired electricity generation is set to increase by almost 5% this year and by a further 3% in 2022, potentially reaching an all-time high," the report said.
Gas-fired generation after a decline of 2% last year is also expected to increase by 1% in 2021 and nearly 2% in next year, according to the report.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya