Sign In

Error
Error
Create an account

Create a free IEA account to download our reports or subcribe to a paid service.

Join for freeJoin for free

Electricity

Worldwide efforts to address climate change is leading to the rapid electrification of numerous end-users from transport to industry, driving a massive increase in power demand as well as the need to generate as much of it as possible from renewable sources. The result is a dramatic transformation of power systems globally.

Electricity Jpg

Key findings

Power sector CO2 emissions in the Net Zero Scenario, 2000-2030

Openexpand

Electricity sector emissions reached their highest-ever level in 2021

Global power sector CO2 emissions (from both electricity and heat production) increased by close to 700 Mt CO2 in 2021, reaching an all-time high of more than 14 Gt. This was driven mostly by a strong increase in coal-fired electricity generation compared to the year before.

A fully decarbonised electricity sector is the essential foundation of a net zero energy system. Electricity is at the heart of modern economies, its share of final energy consumption over 50% by 2050 as electricity demand increases rapidly. Unabated fossil fuels currently account for over 60% of total global electricity generation. To be consistent with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, that share needs to drop to 26% by 2030. The pace of deployment of low- and zero-emission sources has to pick up significantly in order to meet this milestone.

Evolution of global electricity demand, fossil fuel and low-carbon electricity generation, 2015-2023

Openexpand

Russia's invasion of Ukraine increased policies to advance clean energy transitions

In the first half of 2022, many electricity markets continued to experience skyrocketing prices, particularly in Europe, reflecting deep uncertainties over both fossil fuel supplies and the economic outlook. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shattered any hope of energy prices declining in the near term following the strong increases seen in the second half of 2021. In Europe, the situation prompted heightened ambitions and strengthened policies to advance clean energy transitions and reduce dependency on fuel imports. But in the short term, it also resulted in a partial return to coal-fired electricity generation.

Sluggish economic growth is expected to dampen global electricity demand growth in 2022 and 2023 to less than half the rate seen in 2021. Despite gas-to-coal switching and low nuclear power plant availability in Europe, global electricity sector emissions may decline slightly in 2022 and 2023 – reflecting a combination of slowing power demand and displacement of fossil fuels by renewables.

Average annual renewable capacity additions and cumulative installed capacity, historical, forecasts and IEA Net Zero Scenario, 2009-2026

Openexpand

Renewable electricity capacity additions trend is not on track to meet the IEA Net Zero by 2050 Scenario

Annual additions to global renewable electricity capacity are expected to average around 305 GW per year between 2021 and 2026 in our main case forecast. This implies an acceleration of almost 60% compared to renewables’ expansion over the last five years. Conversely, annual renewable capacity additions in our accelerated case are a quarter higher than in our main case, reaching over 380 GW on average over 2021-2026.

However, the gap between both our main and accelerated case forecasts and the trajectory necessary to meet Net Zero by 2050 remains significant. Annual capacity growth under the IEA Net Zero Scenario during 2021-2026 needs to be 80% faster than in our accelerated case, implying that governments need to not only address policy and implementation challenges, but also to increase their ambition.

Electricity data explorer

Our work

The Users TCP’s mission is to provide evidence from socio-technical research on the design, social acceptance and usability of clean energy technologies to inform policy making for clean, efficient and secure energy transitions. Decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation are embedding energy technologies in the heart of our communities. Communities’ response to these changes and use of energy technologies will determine the success of our energy systems. Poorly designed energy policies, and technologies that do not satisfy users’ needs, lead to ‘performance gaps’ that are both energy and economically inefficient. User-centred energy systems are therefore critical for delivering socially and politically acceptable energy transitions.

The mission of the HTS TCP is twofold: to evaluate the status of and assess the prospects for the electric power sector's use of HTS within the developed and developing world; and to disseminate the findings to decision makers in government, the private sector, and the research and development community. The HTS TCP provides evidence from socio-technical research on energy use to policy makers to support clean energy transitions. Through its work the HTS TCP provides evidence on the design, social acceptance and usability of clean energy technologies in the area of high temperature superconductivity.

The ISGAN TCP is a strategic platform to support high-level government attention and action for the accelerated development and deployment of smarter, cleaner electricity grids around the world. Operating as both an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial, and as a TCP, the ISGAN TCP provides an important channel for communication of experience, trends, lessons learned, and visions in support of clean energy objectives as well as new flexible and resilient solutions for smart grids.

Through multi-disciplinary international collaborative research and knowledge exchange, as well as market and policy recommendations, the SHC TCP works to increase the deployment rate of solar heating and cooling systems by breaking down the technical and non-technical barriers to increase deployment.

The Hydrogen TCP, founded in 1977, works to accelerate hydrogen implementation and widespread utilisation in the areas of production, storage, distribution, power, heating, mobility and industry. The Hydrogen TCP seeks to optimise environmental protection, improve energy security, transform global energy systems and grid management, and promote international economic development, as well as serving as the premier global resource for expertise in all aspects of hydrogen technology.

The mission of the Energy Storage TCP is to facilitate research, development, implementation and integration of energy storage technologies to optimise the energy efficiency of all kinds of energy systems and enable the increasing use of renewable energy. Storage technologies are a central component in energy-efficient and sustainable energy systems. Energy storage is a cross-cutting issue that relies on expert knowledge of many disciplines. The Energy Storage TCP fosters widespread experience, synergies and cross-disciplinary co-ordination of working plans and research goals