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IEA: Renewables Growth Can’t Meet Surging Electricity Demand

Global power demand is rising so fast this year after the 2020 slump that even the continued strong growth of renewable electricity generation will not be enough to meet it, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday, warning that coal power generation will jump and threaten efforts of emissions reduction.

This year, global electricity demand is expected to surge by 5 percent from the levels of 2020, when power consumption fell by around 1 percent due to the effects of the pandemic, the IEA said in its semi-annual Electricity Market Report published on Thursday.

Thanks to the global economic recovery, electricity demand worldwide is also expected to rise by another 4 percent in 2022, the agency added.

Despite the strong momentum of renewable power generation, renewables alone will not be anywhere close to meeting with rising global power demand, the IEA said. This means that nearly half of the rise in electricity demand will be met by power generation from fossil fuels, most notably coal.

The Asia Pacific region, China and India in particular, will be the largest contributors to rising electricity demand, the IEA said.

According to the agency’s estimates, fossil fuel electricity generation is set to cover 45 percent of additional demand this year and 40 percent next year, while nuclear power would make up the rest of the increase in global power demand. As a result, carbon emissions from the electricity sector – which fell in both 2019 and 2020 – are expected to rise by 3.5 percent in 2021 and by 2.5 percent in 2022, reaching an all-time high next year.

Despite the growth in renewables, the annual rise in green energy generation outpaced the growth in electricity demand only in 2019 and 2020, but it was due to very slow or declining demand in those years. This suggests that “renewables outpacing the rest of the electricity sector is not yet the new normal,” the IEA said.

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“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,” said Keisuke Sadamori, the IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security. “As economies rebound, we’ve seen a surge in electricity generation from fossil fuels,” Sadamori added.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • George Doolittle on July 15 2021 said:
    No shortage of product via lng or lpg at the moment...both from the United States and Australia and I think even Canada now.

    Building out an actual grid is of awesome expense with even a "virtual grid" through the likes of Tesla of incredible cost as well.

    The USA could do more if the crazy anti-pipeline people weren't going bezerk from inside the White House but one cannot say "there is nothing" as was true just years ago.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on July 15 2021 said:
    The IEA is telling us the obvious which everyone knows, namely that renewables on their own couldn’t satisfy global demand for energy without major contributions from natural gas and nuclear energy. A case in point is Germany which is a forerunner of energy transition and yet it was forced to use coal in increasing volumes to meet electricity demand.

    And with the global economy growing this year at 6.3%, one would expect that global demand for energy and electricity to surge.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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