Energy Transition

Green energy is set to match the world's growing electricity demand - IEA report 

Global electricity demand is expected to rise for next three years, but clean energy will meet much of it.

Green growth ... global electricity demand is expected to rise for next three years, but renewables are rising to meet it. Image: Pexels/PhotoMIX Company

Cristen Hemingway Jaynes
Environmental Journalist, EcoWatch
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Energy Transition

This article is part of: Centre for Energy and Materials
  • Solar and wind power are on track to surpass coal as the world's top source of energy by early 2024.
  • Low-emissions sources such as hydro and nuclear also play a crucial role in reaching renewable goals.
  • Record investments in renewable technologies such as solar panels point to a greener future.
  • But accelerating the energy transition requires a reduction of inequality, better storage, and diversified energy sources.

According to Electricity 2024, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), electricity demand worldwide is expected to accelerate during the next three years, a press release from the IEA said. However, the additional demand is forecast to be covered by clean energy technologies.

Nuclear power is on course to reach a record high in 2025 as renewables continue to expand quickly, enabling the generation of low-emissions energy sources to outpace the demand for power.

“The power sector currently produces more CO2 emissions than any other in the world economy, so it’s encouraging that the rapid growth of renewables and a steady expansion of nuclear power are together on course to match all the increase in global electricity demand over the next three years,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, in the press release.

“This is largely thanks to the huge momentum behind renewables, with ever cheaper solar leading the way, and support from the important comeback of nuclear power, whose generation is set to reach a historic high by 2025. While more progress is needed, and fast, these are very promising trends.”


How is the World Economic Forum facilitating the transition to clean energy?

The new report is the IEA’s yearly analysis of policies and developments in the electricity market. It provides forecasts for supply, demand and carbon emissions from the power sector through 2026.

The report found that the global growth of demand for electricity is expected to speed up to a 3.4% average from this year through 2026, even after falling slightly last year to 2.2% because of less power consumption by advanced economies.

Approximately 85% of the global increase in demand for electricity is predicted to come from India, China and South-East Asian countries.

At the same time, record-setting generation from solar, wind, hydro, nuclear and other low-emissions power sources should reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, the report said.

Low-emissions sources made up just shy of 40% of the planet’s electricity generation in 2023, but that is expected to increase to nearly half by 2026.

According to the report, renewables are on course to comprise a third of total power generation by early next year, surpassing coal. When global generation of fossil fuels falls to less than 60%, it will be the first time in more than 50 years.

“The decoupling of global electricity demand and emissions would be significant given the energy sector’s increasing electrification, with more consumers using technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps,” the press release said.

Demand for electricity in the United States and Europe was down last year, with many developing and emerging economies — in response to growing populations and industrialization — recording growth that is on track to continue through 2026.

Per capita electricity use in South-East Asia and India has increased rapidly, while in Africa it has been effectively at a standstill for more than 30 years.

“Electricity use is a key indicator of economic development in any country, and it’s a grim sign that it has flatlined in Africa on a per capita basis for over three decades,” Birol said in the press release.

“Access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy for all citizens is essential for African countries to achieve their economic and climate goals. The international community needs to work together with African governments to enable the urgent progress that is needed.”

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Energy TransitionSustainable Development
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