Renewable Energy Increases Fall Short of Meeting Global Demand

The latest IEA report highlights that the impressive increase in renewable energy still falls short of the total demand growth which threatens net-zero targets.

Global electricity demand made a 1% decrease during 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we recover, electricity demand is due to make a recovery by increasing almost 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022. This percentage increase will put pressure on generation to meet demand whilst maintaining on target for net-zero.

By comparison, renewable energy has made an impressive increase during 2020, despite the challenge of COVID-19, by making a 7% increase. This puts renewable on the path to increase by 8% in 2021 and 6% in 2022. Despite these figures, renewable energy generation increases fail to meet total demand. It is forecast that only 50% of demand growth will be met by renewable energy during these periods.

The remaining total demand will meet by fossil fuel-based generation that will impact global net-zero targets. After making a 4.6% decrease in 2020, coal will rebound to make an almost 5% increase in 2021 to meet 45% demand putting it ahead of pre-COVID-19 levels. Furthermore, an additional 3% growth is projected for 2022 to cover 40% demand which would set a record level.

Net-zero targets will be significantly impacted by this shift in the generation mix. The 3.5% decrease in CO2 emissions from the energy industry will be completely reversed over 2021 and make a 2.5% increase in 2020, setting another record level with the report forecast.

If we are to be in line with net-zero targets we must have strict policies within the energy industry, which will account for the majority of emission reductions between 2020 and 2025. For this to be achieved we need to have a year on year reduction of coal-based generation. Global electricity demand needs to utilise low-carbon sources of generation to continue the decline in coal rather than contribute to a higher percentage of the mix.

However, recent events have shown us that the security of supply for renewable energy generation can be seriously threatened due to its reliance on weather conditions. This calls for new innovative methods of reliable, flexible and low-carbon sources to support electricity systems such as repurposing CCGTs to provide service at significantly reduce emissions.

More information is available by speaking to Jason Thackray on 0333 9000 246 or email :