To achieve climate targets, the IEA says the world’s electrical grid must be improved immediately.

The head of the world’s energy watchdog has asked ministers to “open their eyes” to the necessity of constructing a massive network of new electrical grids in order for countries to achieve their climate targets.

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) executive director Fatih Birol has cautioned that by 2040, 80 million kilometers of infrastructure must be added to or upgraded in order to meet climate goals and guarantee stable power supply.

After “over a decade of stagnation at the global level,” the IEA stated that the global investment in energy grids needed to increase to more than $600 billion (£492 billion) annually by 2030 in order to meet national climate commitments.

As more people move to low-carbon alternatives to conventional products, such heat pumps and electric vehicles, the demand for energy is expected to rise. Steelmakers and other businesses in highly polluting sectors are looking to electrification to aid in their decarbonization efforts.

While Europe tries to respond, the US president of the United States, Joe Biden, has encouraged investors to support American renewable energy projects via the Inflation Reduction Act. There are worries that these initiatives may be limited by weak connections between electricity generation facilities and customer residences as well as a bottleneck in connecting to national networks.

Developers of renewable energy projects have frequently criticized the government for their difficulties in connecting their projects to the grid and accused them of lacking vision. The UK’s National Grid is working to shorten the up to 15-year wait times for some projects.

Five times as much solar and wind capacity will be added globally in 2022, according to the IEA, which stated that renewable projects producing at least 3,000 gigawatts of power are awaiting connections to their national networks.

“Governments need to open their eyes,” Birol told the Guardian. In addition to producing clean electricity, grid development is also necessary if we want clean electricity. It has been a blind area of the government’s clean energy transition programs.

Concerns have also been raised about a decrease in grid investment in “emerging and developing economies, excluding China”.

The IEA issued a warning that postponing grid investments and reforms would increase the dependency on gas, drive up carbon emissions, and make the 1.5C global warming target “out of reach.” According to the report, in order to meet the targets, global electricity consumption must increase 20% faster in the coming decade than it did in the one before.

Governments, according to the agency, must encourage the development of supply chains, provide additional training to modernize grids, and enhance planning procedures.

It advocated for improved communication between planners of grid improvements and renewable energy projects, enhanced methods for including the public in planning, and expanded use of digital tools to combat intermittent power supply when renewable energy sources do not meet demand.

The largest investment since the 1960s, the UK’s National Grid announced plans for a £54 billion upgrade to the power grid last year to support the expansion of the offshore wind industry. However, the failure of the energy auction last month to acquire contracts for any new offshore wind farms led to criticism of Rishi Sunak’s administration.

Birol said last month that nations and businesses intending to increase the production of fossil fuels were taking “very unhealthy and unwise economic risks” since their investments might not be successful.

Since then, as a result of the Israel-Hamas conflict, oil prices have increased considerably, reaching more than $90 per barrel. According to Birol, we are there to reassure the markets if there is a physical disruption of oil supply.

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