A historic record: more people than ever before are connected to an electricity grid

Panneaux solaires du Rooiputs Lodge, dans le désert du Kalahari, au Botswana.

Solar panels on Rooiputs Lodge in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana.

90 million people gained access to an electricity grid in 2019. This is a historic record: more people on earth have access to this form of energy than ever before, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) released in October 2020 and entitled “Power Systems in Transition.” 

This encouraging result is the proof that the efforts made to develop the electricity grid in developing countries are bearing fruit: energy projects in India and a number of African countries have offered millions of people access to electricity. 

Thanks to renewable energy, the electricity sector — whose share in the energy mix in all countries worldwide is steadily increasing — is experiencing its most radical transformation since its creation over a century ago. 

This revolution shows no signs of stopping, particularly due to climate change: “Electricity is essential for the functioning of modern societies and — when it is renewable — for helping bring down greenhouse gas emissions. This is why the IEA is continuing to expand and deepen its work on electricity security,” commented Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. 

Fast-growing energy

Electricity currently represents one-fifth of global energy consumption, and this figure continues to rise. It is gaining ground in heating, air conditioning and transport, and in many highly digitized sectors of activity such as communication, finance and health. 

According to the IEA’s sustainable development scenario, this trend will accelerate, and electricity could well overtake oil as the world’s leading energy source by 2040. The share of solar and wind power in global electricity production would rise from 7 to 45% over the same period. 

Last but not least, the IEA notes that more and more countries are now benefitting from a high level of electricity supply security thanks to their equipment: centrally controlled systems, relatively simple supply chains, and power plants that can supply electricity at any moment. 


“Power Systems in Transition,” International Energy Agency, October 2020 www.iea.org/reports/power-systems-in-transition