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The IEA warns that the world’s electricity networks must be doubled between now and 2040

Nature

Paris, Oct 17 (EFE).- The development of renewable energies necessary to meet climate objectives requires doubling the extension of electrical networks in the world between now and 2040, underlines the IEA, which warns that otherwise the risk is global warming even greater than 2 ºC.

In a report published this Tuesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) calculates that limiting the global rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees involves, among other things, increasing the use of electricity at a rate 20% higher. in the next decade when compared to the previous one.

The reason is that a significant part of liquid or gaseous fuels (those of fossil origin) will have to be replaced with electricity, especially to power vehicle engines.

Furthermore, 80% of the increase in electricity production in the next two decades would come from wind and solar installations, when in the last two decades these renewable technologies contributed around 40% of new capacities.

Being more dispersed in the territory than thermal or nuclear plants, these wind and solar installations require more power lines to carry that electricity to consumers.

As if that were not enough, the discontinuous nature of its production makes it necessary to have greater flexibility in the system to adjust supply and demand at all times.

From the conjunction of these factors comes the figure estimated by IEA experts of 80 million kilometers that will have to be built by 2040, which is equivalent to those that currently exist.

In terms of investment, it will be necessary to double the current pace to reach 600 billion dollars annually by 2030, taking into account that in recent years the situation has been one of stagnation at around 300 billion dollars.

Hence, the agency launches a serious alert for things to change, aware that networks are infrastructures about which the population and policy makers are less aware and which arouse much more resistance than renewable energies.

Its construction often takes fifteen years from planning, obtaining authorizations and commissioning, compared to periods of one to five years for renewable projects.

To illustrate this, he gives as an example the 400-kilometer electrical interconnection between Spain and France through the Bay of Biscay, which was announced in 2017 and is now expected for 2028, when it was initially due to enter service in 2025.

A delay that in this case is attributed to a change in itinerary due to the instability of the seabed which, in the current context of tensions over raw materials, will increase its cost by 63%.

According to the IEA, there are renewable projects in the world for at least 3,000 gigawatts of power, of which 1,500 are in an advanced state, which are waiting for lines to connect to the grid.

Those 1,500 gigawatts are equivalent to five times the wind and solar photovoltaic capacities that came into service around the world last year.

In a scenario of insufficient networks prepared by the authors of the report, which would imply fewer renewables and more fossil fuels, carbon emissions from the electricity sector could be 58 gigatonnes higher by 2050 than in the scenario aligned with international climate objectives.

These additional emissions would be equivalent to those from the electricity system in the last four years and would lead to warming well above 1.5 degrees, with a 40% chance of exceeding 2 degrees.

Nature
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