The Covid-19 crisis has underlined the importance of a reliable, affordable and secure electricity supply that is able to accommodate sudden changes in behaviour and economic activity while continuing to support vital health and information services. The electricity sector will play a key role in supporting economic recovery, and an increasingly important long-term role in providing the energy that the world needs. Over time it looks set to evolve into a system with lower CO2 emissions, a stronger infrastructure base and enhanced flexibility.

According to International Energy Agency (IEA) report World Energy Outlook 2020, in advanced economies, electricity demand recovers to pre-crisis levels by 2023 and then rises by 0.8% per year through to 2030, driven by the electrification of mobility and heat. In developing market and emerging economies, rising levels of ownership of household appliances and air conditioners, together with increasing consumption of goods and services, underpin strong growth, exceeding pre-crisis levels by 2021. 

Renewable sources of electricity have been resilient during the Covid-19 crisis and are set for strong growth, rising by two-thirds from 2020 to 2030. Renewables meet 80% of global electricity demand growth during the next decade and overtake coal by 2025 as the primary means of producing electricity. By 2030, hydro, wind, solar PV, bioenergy, geothermal, concentrating solar and marine power between them provide nearly 40% of electricity supply. China leads the way, expanding electricity from renewables by almost 1 500 TWh to 2030, which is equivalent to all the electricity generated in France, Germany and Italy in 2019.

Solar PV becomes the new king of electricity supply and looks set for massive expansion. From 2020 to 2030, solar PV grows by an average of 13% per year, meeting almost one-third of electricity demand growth over the period.

Flexibility is the cornerstone of electricity security in modern power systems. Electricity networks have a central part to play in unlocking flexibility from power plants, energy storage and demand-side resources. Revenue for many transmission system operators are set to decline in 2020, which could present an electricity security risk if they do not quickly recover.

Grids are modernised, expanded and digitalised, and grid investment reaches $460 billion in 2030, two-thirds more than in 2019. Over the next ten years, 2 million km of transmission and 14 million km of distribution lines are added, 80% more than the network expansion over the past decade.

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