IEA holds high-level workshop on the future of electricity
24 April 2018
The future of electricity will be the “fuel” focus of the next World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency’s flagship publication, to be released in mid-November.
As part of an agency-wide effort on this WEO electricity focus, the IEA hosted a high-level workshop in Paris on Tuesday, bringing together decision makers and leading experts from around the world to provide strategic guidance on the analysis and share their experience. The workshop marked a high point in the IEA’s “Year of Electricity,” examining various aspects of the transformation of the electricity sector this year.
The workshop was attended by representatives from 75 organisations, covering a wide range from government, industry, utilities, manufacturers, downstream, consulting, industry associations, research and academia. It also included a broad regional coverage, with participants representing more than 40 countries, from the IEA family and beyond.
The future looks bright for electricity, which is set to grow at twice the rate of overall energy demand to 2040. In 2016, total power sector investment surpassed that of oil and gas for the first time, propelled by renewables, mostly solar and wind. Meanwhile 1.1 billion people still lack access to electricity globally, new demand is coming from electric mobility, digitalization, cooling and heating.
And the nature of electricity supply is undergoing a major transition, from a century-old foundation of dispatchable fossil fuels to ever cheaper variable renewables, with related market reforms underway. The power sector is responsible for close to 40% of energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions, 60% of coal use and 36% of natural gas use. Understanding changes in the power sector is therefore essential to analysing progress towards environmental goals and understanding global energy trends.
The objectives of the WEO's focus on electricity will include:
- Assessing the long-term outlook for electricity demand, with insights on traditional and new sources of demand growth such as electric vehicles, digitalization, cooling and energy access in developing countries, and the emerging need for responsive demand.
- Providing in-depth analysis of the speed of the transition underway in electricity supply – highlighting global issues and regional perspectives – based on the latest market data, technology developments and government policies.
- Investigating the implications on electricity security, environmental protection and economic development, with insights on market designs.
- Exploring key uncertainties, resulting from the pace of deployment for new technologies, market and policy developments, and changing consumer preferences.
In addition, this year’s WEO will also have a focus on oil and gas producing economies.