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2021 electricity demand grew at its fastest pace since 2010, driving high global prices
2022-01-25

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a report saying that unless structural reforms are accelerated, increased

global electricity demand over the next three years could lead to market price volatility and high emissions.


Global electricity demand grew by 1,500 terawatt hours (TWh) in 2021, up 6 percent year-on-year, the largest increase since

the recovery of the global financial crisis in 2010 and the largest overall increase on record, the report said.


China accounted for about half of global growth, up 10 percent year-on-year.


While COVID-19 and high energy prices could undermine demand growth, global electricity demand is expected to grow by an

average of 2.7 percent between 2022 and 2024, the report said.


Carbon dioxide emissions also climbed to an all-time high in 2021, up 7 percent year-on-year after falling in the first two years

and will remain at the same level for the next three years, the IEA said.


Surges in energy consumption, combined with shortages of natural gas and coal, have created fluctuations in electricity prices,

disruption of demand, and negative impacts on power generation equipment, retailers and end-users in China, Europe and India.


The IEA's price index for the main wholesale electricity market in 2021 almost doubled compared to 2020, 64% higher than the

2016-2020 average. In Europe, prices in the fourth quarter of 2021 are more than four times the average price in 2015 to 2020.

Similarly strong gains have been seen in electricity prices in Japan and India, while electricity prices in the United States have been

more modest because natural gas supplies have been less affected.


Fatih Birol, Director-General of the International Energy Agency, said: "The recent sharp rise in electricity prices has created difficulties

for many homes and businesses around the world and has the potential to be a driver of social and political tensions. ”


Increased investment in low-carbon technologies, renewable energy, nuclear energy, energy efficiency and grid expansion is seen as

a solution.

Coal-fired power generation grew 9 percent in 2021, accounting for more than half of demand growth, and hit a record high as soaring

natural gas prices made the fuel source more competitive, the report said.


According to the International Energy Agency, electricity supply from renewables increased by 6% in 2021, with gas-fired and nuclear

power generation increasing by 2% and 3.5%, respectively.


The agency predicts that by 2024, global renewables are expected to grow by 8% year-on-year, accounting for more than 90% of total

demand growth over the same period. Fossil fuel generation was flat, coal power generation declined slightly, and natural gas power

generation increased by an average of 1%.