The demand for global electricity is growing faster than renewable energy capacity and therefore will require more power to be generated from fossil fuels.
That’s according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which found renewable energy is not expanding quickly enough to meet the strong rebound in global demand for electricity this year.
That is resulting in a “sharp rise” in the use of coal power, risking pushing carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector to “record levels” next year.
Coal power generation is set to increase by almost 5% this year and a further 3% in 2022, potentially reaching an all-time high while gas-fired production, which declined 2% in 2020, is expected to rise by 1% in 2021 and nearly 2% in 2022.
Demand for electricity is set to grow by nearly 5% in 2021 around the world and 4% in 2022, with the majority of the increase expected to come from the Asia Pacific region, primarily China and India.
The report suggests while power generation from renewables, including wind, solar and hydropower, is on track to grow strongly globally over the next two years – by 8% in 2021 and more than 6% in 2022, they will only be able to meet around half of the projected rise in electricity demand.
It adds fossil fuel-based electricity production is set to cover 45% of additional demand in 2021 and 40% in 2022, with nuclear power accounting for the rest.
As a result, carbon emissions from the electricity sector – which fell both in 2019 and 2020 – are forecast to increase by 3.5% in 2021 and 2.5% in 2022, taking them to an all-time high.
Keisuke Sadamori, IEA Director of Energy Markets and Security said: “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.
“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.”