Africa|Energy|Infrastructure|Power|Projects|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|SECURITY|Solar|System|Infrastructure
Africa|Energy|Infrastructure|Power|Projects|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|SECURITY|Solar|System|Infrastructure

Invest in grids today or face gridlock tomorrow, IEA warns

IEA executive director Fatih Birol

IEA executive director Fatih Birol

17th October 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


Font size: - +

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning that investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure is failing to keep pace with renewables projects, and is leading to a large and growing queue of projects waiting to be connected to the grid globally.

In a newly published report titled ‘Electricity Grids and Secure Energy Transitions’, the agency notes that advanced projects with a combined capacity of 1 500 GW, or five times the amount of solar and wind capacity added worldwide in 2022, are currently waiting to be connected to the grid.

The report also identifies a lack of investment in grid infrastructure as one of the reasons for ongoing loadshedding in South Africa currently, noting too that no wind projects were awarded during the country’s most recent renewables auction as a result of a lack of grid capacity.

However, a recent domestic assessment indicated that significant grid capacity could still be unlocked in provinces such as the Western Cape under a framework accommodative of less than 10% renewable-energy curtailment, which is a common practice among international transmission system operators.

Nevertheless, there is a growing push for accelerated investment in new grid infrastructure, with government even considering private sector participation models to help fund the estimated R210-billion-plus required to add 14 000 km of new power lines and associated transformation capacity by early in the next decade.

A report on the options is being prepared and will reportedly serve before Cabinet in the not-too-distant future.

Globally, the IEA calculates that 80-million kilometres of power lines will need to be added or refurbished by 2040 to meet national climate and security-of-supply targets – a rollout that is equivalent in scale to all grids currently in operation globally.

It adds that yearly grid-related investment will also need to double to more than $600- billion a year by 2030.

In modelling the carbon impact of failing to scale up such investments, the report outlines a so-called ‘Grid Delay Case’, showing that cumulative carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions between 2030 and 2050 would be almost 60-billion tonnes higher as a result of a slower rollout of renewables that results in higher fossil fuel consumption.

Under such a scenario, emissions would be equivalent to the total CO2 emissions from the global power sector over the past four years, implying a global temperature rise well above the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 °C, with a 40% chance of exceeding 2 °C. 

“We must invest in grids today or face gridlock tomorrow,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol argued when releasing the first-of-its-kind global study on October 17.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



Image of solar panels
Solar farm project, South Africa
Updated 2 hours 20 minutes ago By: Sheila Barradas



FlameBlock is a proudly South African company that engineers, manufactures and supplies fire intumescent and retardant products to the fire...

John Thompson
John Thompson

John Thompson, the leader in energy and environmental solutions through value engineering and innovation, provides the following: design, engineer,...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

SEW-EURODRIVE at Nampo 2024
SEW-EURODRIVE at Nampo 2024
21st May 2024

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.468 0.523s - 168pq - 8rq
Subscribe Now