published on 15 July 2021 in energy

Global electricity demand and renewables: forecasts according to IEA

Renewable energy is growing fast, but not fast enough to keep up with the increase in the global electricity demand in 2021 and 2022. After a 7% growth in 2020, renewable electricity generation is expected to increase by 8% in 2021 and by more than 6% in 2022. Despite this, renewable energy is expected to be able to cover only about half of the expected growth in global demand in 2021 and 2022. This is stated by the International Energy Agency – IEA, which has recently published its half-yearly electricity market report (text in English). The report explains that after consumption declined by 1% in 2020 due to the pandemic, it is expected to rise by +5% this year and +4% next year. Much of the increase in electricity demand will come from Asia Pacific region, mainly China and India.

IEA estimates that electricity generated from fossil fuels will cover 45% of additional demand in 2021 and 40% in 2022. Coal-fired electricity generation, after declining by 4.6% in 2020, will increase by nearly 5% in 2021, exceeding pre-pandemic levels; it will also grow by an additional 3% in 2022, reaching its all-time high. Natural gas-fired electricity generation, after declining by 2% in 2020, will increase by 1% in 2021 and nearly 2% in 2022. Gas consumption is growing at lower rates than coal as it plays a smaller role in the Asia-Pacific region and there is increasing competition from renewables in the US and Europe. The consequence of these scenarios is an increase in carbon emissions from the electricity sector which, after decreasing in both 2019 and 2020, will increase by 3.5% in 2021 and 2.5% in 2022.

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