The year 2021 placed exceptional demands on electricity markets around the world. Strong economic growth, combined with colder winters and warmer summers, boosted global electricity demand by more than 6% – the largest increase since the recovery from the financial crisis in 2010. The fast rebound in overall energy demand strained supply chains for coal and natural gas, pushing up wholesale electricity prices. Despite the impressive growth of renewable power, electricity generation from coal and gas hit record levels. As a result, the global electricity sector’s annual carbon dioxide emissions leaped to a new all-time high after having decreased for the previous two years.
Building on our analysis of these recent events, the January 2022 edition of the IEA Electricity Market Report presents our forecasts for demand, supply and emissions in global electricity markets through 2024. While renewables are set to meet the vast majority of the increase in global electricity demand in the coming years, this trend would only result in a plateauing of emissions from electricity generation. That is insufficient for the power sector to fulfil its critical role as a leading force in the decarbonisation of economies around the world.