Greater efforts need to be made to ensure strong security of supply during the global transformation of the electricity sector.
That’s the call from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which stresses a range of actions must be taken at the “technical, economic and political levels” to ensure the world’s energy supplies remain secure as the sector undergoes its transition to a cleaner and smarter model.
It notes electricity already makes up around 20% of all global energy consumption and highlights this proportion will rise as it increasingly plays a vital role in the decarbonisation of heating, cooling and transport, as well as communication, finance and healthcare.
The organisation suggests electricity could surpass oil as the world’s largest energy source by 2040, with renewables potentially making up 70% of all power by this time.
However, the report stresses the threat of cyber attacks, more common extreme weather and the rising intermittency of the energy the world relies upon means policies, regulations and markets must be overhauled to ensure power systems can remain secure.
The IEA says power systems must become more flexible to “smoothly accommodate the variable electricity production from wind and solar”, adding that governments and the private sector need to step up investment in grids, demand-side technology and battery storage infrastructure.
It warns that investment is currently falling in these areas and states better market structures must be created to reward the delivery of flexibility and capacity resources.
The report also calls for cybersecurity measures to be completely integrated into the planning and operation of electricity systems and says nations need to equally prioritise climate resilience, which should be driven by strong regulations and the establishment of better standards to encourage suitable investments.
Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, said: “Energy security is at the heart of the IEA’s mission because it is critical for social wellbeing, economic prosperity and successful clean energy transitions. We are dedicated to helping countries around the world ensure that all their citizens have access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.
“Electricity is essential for the functioning of modern societies – as the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted – and for bringing down global emissions. This is why we are continuing to expand and deepen our work on electricity security.”