Are grids ready for the all-electric and connected society?

grids connected society IEC Standards conformity assessment electricity networks modernize

Electricity demand around the world is expected to sky-rocket as we switch to electric-powered vehicles, heat pumps for our homes and pursue the vast digital transformation of society. Emerging nations are also expected to use an increasing amount of electricity as they industrialize and give their populations ever greater access to energy. While this massive switch over to electricity is expected to considerably reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and help in the fight against climate change, a mounting concern is that electricity grids won’t be able to cope with the increased demand.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) started ringing the alarm bell with a report it claims is the first of its kind. Published in 2023, it states that the world must add or replace 80 million km of transmission lines by 2040, equal to all electricity networks installed globally today, to meet national climate targets and support energy security. The report identifies a large and growing queue of renewables projects waiting for the green light to be connected to the grid, pinpointing 1 500 gigawatts (GW) worth of these projects that are in advanced stages of development. This is five times the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind capacity that was added worldwide in 2022.

“The recent clean energy progress we have seen in many countries is unprecedented and cause for optimism, but it could be put in jeopardy if governments and businesses do not come together to ensure the world’s electricity grids are ready for the new global energy economy that is rapidly emerging,” says IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “This report shows what’s at stake and needs to be done. We must invest in grids today or face gridlock tomorrow.”

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