IEA: renewable heat take-up needs to accelerate to meet net zero scenario

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released its Renewables 2021 report on 1 December. As well as tracking the growth and outlook for renewable power generation, the report also looked at the state-of-play for renewable heat, both residential and industrial.

While renewable energy generation experienced another record-breaking year of growth, the report noted that global progress on the conversion to renewable heat has been limited. Heat is the world’s largest energy end use, accounting for almost half of global final energy consumption in 2021, with heat for industrial processes accounting 51% of that.

Driven by economic growth, industrial heat consumption is expected to expand by almost 15% between 2021 and 2026, with renewables expected to only account for a fifth of that growth. The report states that fossil fuels will supply the remaining four-fifths, leading to a 12% surge in annual heat-related industrial CO2 emissions. To achieve the IEA's Net Zero Emissions Scenario, thermal uses of renewable electricity in industry needs to expand twice as fast as in our the projected outlook and renewable district heat consumption needs to grow six times faster, with contributions from bioenergy (the largest renewable source for district heat) and also from solar thermal and large-scale heat pumps.

Access the full Renewables 2021 report, including the Renewable Heat chapter.

Renewable heat consumption and share of total heat demand in industry, 2014-2026

IEA, Renewable heat consumption and share of total heat demand in industry, 2014-2026, IEA, Paris