Power demand surge thwarts climate goals

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The International Energy Agency said global electricity demand will rise to record levels in 2021, fueling price hikes and increasing emissions.

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Running news: New data from the IEA on Friday shows that electricity demand increased by more than 1,500 terawatt-hours, the most absolute amount ever.

  • The 6% growth amid a return from the pandemic, and increased demand from extreme weather, was the highest on a percentage basis since the 2010 recovery from the financial crisis.
  • In many places, consumers and energy-using industries experienced economic pain. The IEA’s wholesale electricity market price index for major economies was 64% higher than the 2016-2020 average.
  • While renewable energy grew rapidly, electricity generation from coal and gas reached record levels, and so did the sector’s emissions.

What will happen next: The IEA sees demand growth softening over the next three years, with fossil production levels off and renewables meeting nearly all growing needs.

  • They see emissions levels going down by 2024, but nowhere near the massive drop required under their roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • The IEA said there is a need for higher investments in efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power, smart grids and other clean technology.
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