Global electricity production emitted more CO2 in 2021 than ever before. The massive increase in demand could not be met with additional renewable energy sources. Electricity from coal grew by 9 percent to a record amount, and CO2 emissions rose by 7 percent, also to a record level, according to the electricity report published on Friday by the International Energy Agency IEA. At the same time, electricity wholesale prices have doubled.
Nuclear power returned to pre-crisis levels
Due to the high gas prices, part of the electricity production was switched from gas to coal-fired power plants. Nuclear power also increased by 3.5 percent and thus practically returned to the pre-crisis level. Although emissions from electricity production should decrease by a good half by 2030, i.e. in eight years, they will actually increase slightly in the next three years if drastic measures are not taken, criticizes IEA Secretary General Fatih Birol.
In 2021 there was the strongest growth in electricity demand since 2010 with a plus of 6 percent. In absolute terms, the additional 1,500 TWh used was the highest increase in global electricity demand ever recorded in a year. Around half of the increase occurred in China, where, as in India, electricity was cut off due to a lack of coal.
The IEA assumes that electricity demand will increase by 2.7 percent annually from 2022 to 2024. Renewable energy sources can cover 90 percent of the growth, but in 2024 34 percent of global electricity should still be generated from the combustion of coal – more than from all renewable sources combined (32 percent). All fossil fuels together are likely to account for 58 percent of electricity generation in 2024, and nuclear power for a little less than 10 percent.
In 2021 nuclear power accounted for around 2,870 TWh, which was just under 10 percent of global electricity production. Coal contributed around 10,300 TWh, gas 6,400 TWh, renewable energy sources 7,900 TWh and other non-renewable sources 1,000 TWh. According to the IEA, the total was 28,437 TWh, with 13,022 megatons of CO2 being emitted. (apa)