IEA chief Fatih Birol credits a broadening shift toward low-emission technologies -- including renewable power sources like solar, wind and water, nuclear energy and other clean alternatives -- that would serve to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the coming years. File Photo by Ole Berg-Rusten/EPA-EFE
Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Global demand for electricity will increase at a faster rate over the next three years, driven by the clean energy transition that aims to reduce the effects of climate change, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.
The Paris-based organization, which works to steer global energy policies, published its Electricity 2024 report on the outlook for electricity and carbon emissions that forecast an average growth of 3.4% in electricity demand through the end of 2026.
This outlook follows a recent 2.2% dip in electricity demand in 2023 due to declining electricity consumption in advanced economies, the report said.
The worldwide energy transformation is highlighted by a broadening shift toward low-emission technologies -- including renewable power sources like solar, wind and water, nuclear energy and other clean alternatives -- which are projected to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the coming years.
"The power sector currently produces more CO2 emissions than any other in the world economy, so it's encouraging that the rapid growth of renewables and a steady expansion of nuclear power are together on course to match all the increase in global electricity demand over the next three years," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.
"This is largely thanks to the huge momentum behind renewables, with ever cheaper solar leading the way, and support from the important comeback of nuclear power, whose generation is set to reach a historic high by 2025. While more progress is needed, and fast, these are very promising trends."
By 2026, about 50% of the world's electricity will come from sources that produce fewer harmful emissions, compared to slightly under 40% in 2023, which should contribute to a substantial reduction in environmental impacts.
The rise in demand for electricity is primarily expected to come from countries such as China, India and other parts of Southeast Asia, which are expected to contribute 85% of the increase in demand through 2026.
The report took note of remarkable growth in renewables and nuclear power that is working to curtail power sector emissions around the world.
Last summer, a nuclear facility began operating in Georgia, marking the first such emissions-free power plant to come online in the United States in more than three decades.
In October, the IEA released its 2023 World Energy Outlook report, which predicted sharp declines in the demand for oil and gas over the next few years as clean energy gained more momentum.
The newest report also forecasts a historic moment as the proportion of fossil fuels in global electricity generation is expected to dip below 60% in the coming years, marking the first fossil fuel decline in more than half a century.
Global emissions from electricity generation are expected to decrease by 2.4% this year, and renewables are set to make up more than one-third of total electricity generation by early 2025, surpassing coal.
The report also cites environmental gains that have come from global efforts to increase the electrification of the energy sector, as well as the decline in electricity prices in some regions.
Next year, global nuclear power generation is expected to reach an unprecedented peak due to increased output from France, the reactivation of several plants in Japan, and the installment of new reactors in China, India, South Korea and Europe.