Renewables will be the top source of global electricity by 2025

Renewables will dominate the growth of global electricity supply and meet the vast majority of the increase in demand to 2025, according to a new report out today from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Renewables’ share of the global power generation mix is forecast to rise from 29% in 2022 to 35% in 2025, with the shares of coal- and gas-fired generation falling, according to the IEA’s “Electricity Market Report 2023.” So that means that the CO2 intensity of global power generation will continue to fall in the coming years.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said:

The world’s growing demand for electricity is set to accelerate, adding more than double Japan’s current electricity consumption over the next three years.

The good news is that renewables and nuclear power are growing quickly enough to meet almost all this additional appetite, suggesting we are close to a tipping point for power sector emissions. Governments now need to enable low-emissions sources to grow even faster and drive down emissions so that the world can ensure secure electricity supplies while reaching climate goals.

Here are five standout points from the report’s executive summary:

Renewables and nuclear will dominate the growth of the global electricity supply over the next three years, together meeting on average more than 90% of additional demand. China accounts for more than 45% of the growth in renewables from 2023 to 2025, followed by the EU with 15%.

Global electricity generation from both natural gas and coal is expected to remain broadly flat between 2022 and 2025. Gas use will drop in the EU but is expected to rise in the Middle East. A drop in coal use in the EU and the Americas will be matched by a rise in Asia Pacific. Developments in China, where more than half of the world’s coal-fired generation occurs, will remain a key factor.

After reaching an all-time high in 2022, power generation emissions are set to plateau through 2025. Global electricity generation emissions increased 1.3% in 2022, a rate similar to the 2016-2019 average. That’s a significant slowdown from the 6% rise in 2021, which was driven by the rapid economic recovery from the pandemic.

After 2021, 2022 marks the highest percentage growth in emissions of EU power generation since the oil crises of the 1970s, recording a 4.5% year-on-year growth. However, the EU’s setback will be temporary, as power generation emissions are expected to decrease on average by about 10% annually through 2025. Coal is expected to fall by 10% and gas by almost 12% annually on average over the outlook period as renewables ramp up and nuclear generation recovers.

Electricity demand in India and the US rose, while the zero-Covid policy affected China’s growth. The US recorded a significant 2.6% year-over-year demand increase in 2022 that was driven by economic activity and higher residential use to meet both heating and cooling needs amid hotter summer weather and a colder-than-normal winter. Electricity demand in India rose by a 8.4% in 2022, due to post-pandemic economic recovery and exceptionally high summer temperatures.

Photo: Siemens Gamesa

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