World electricity demand is expected to continue to grow more strongly than any other final form of energy. In the New Policies Scenario, it is projected to grow by 2.2% per year between 2008 and 2035, with more than 80% of the increase occurring in non‐OECD countries. In China, electricity demand triples between 2008 and 2035. Over the next 15 years, China is projected to add generating capacity equivalent to the current total installed capacity of the United States. Globally, gross capacity additions, to replace obsolete capacity and to meet demand growth, amount to around 5 900 gigawatts (GW) over the period 2009‐2035 — 25% more than current installed capacity; more than 40% of this incremental capacity is added by 2020.
Electricity generation is entering a period of transformation as investment shifts to low‐carbon technologies — the result of higher fossil‐fuel prices and government policies to enhance energy security and to curb emissions of CO2. In the New Policies Scenario, fossil fuels — mainly coal and natural gas — remain dominant, but their share of total generation drops from 68% in 2008 to 55% in 2035, as nuclear and renewable sources expand. The shift to low‐carbon technologies is particularly marked in the OECD. Globally, coal remains the leading source of electricity generation in 2035, although its share of electricity generation declines from 41% now to 32%. A big increase in non‐OECD coal‐fired generation is partially offset by a fall in OECD countries. Gas‐fired generation grows in absolute terms, mainly in the non‐OECD, but maintains a stable share of world electricity generation at around 21% over the Outlook period. The share of nuclear power in generation increases only marginally, with more than 360 GW of new additions over the period and extended lifetime for several plants. Globally, the shift to nuclear power, renewables and other low‐carbon technologies is projected to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted per unit of electricity generated by one‐third between 2008 and 2035.