As the world undergoes the “most dramatic” transformation in the electricity sector, industry and governments should pay close attention to evolving challenges, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.
Launching its Power Systems in Transition report, the Paris-based agency said issues such as cyber threats, extreme weather events and rapidly growing shares of variable electricity generation can challenge global electrification.
These three key areas of the future of electricity security are looked into depth in the report, which also offers recommendations for addressing them in a way that supports the acceleration of clean energy transitions globally.
Electricity currently accounts for 20% of global energy consumption and this is changing as its role in heating, cooling and transport increases. The IEA forecasts that electricity could surpass oil as the world’s largest energy source by 2040 under its so-called Sustainable Development Scenario.
Still under this scenario, power generation from wind and solar sources would rise from 7% to 45%, with all renewables generating over 70% of the global energy mix, Kallanish Energy reports.
Policies, regulations and market designs must be updated to ensure that power systems remain secure throughout clean energy transitions, the IEA said. “An essential goal is to make systems more flexible so they can smoothly accommodate the variable electricity production from wind and solar,” it added.
“This includes making the best use of flexibility on offer from existing power plants that can generate electricity when required, as well as increasing investments in grids and other sources of flexibility such as demand-side technologies and storage resources,” the IEA explained.
Systems need to become more resilient physically and digitally, so they can be prepared to deal with challenges such as rising sea levels and cyber attacks in power systems. “An increase in investments should be facilitated by better-designed markets that reward power system resources that deliver flexibility and capacity,” the IEA concludes.
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