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Data Centres, AI, Crypto Spurring Power Demand in Asia – IEA

China, India and Southeast Asia are still seeing growing demand for electricity, and some of the factors driving that increasing demand include modern technology and cryptocurrency mining

Data centres, such as this one in Hong Kong, generate a lot of heat. And like AI and crypto mining, they also use a lot of power. (AFP file photo).


China, India and Southeast Asia are still seeing growing demand for electricity, although demand for power in advanced economies is declining, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Some of the factors driving that demand in countries across Asia are technological. For example, the IEA report said electricity consumption from data centres, artificial intelligence (AI) and the cryptocurrency sector could double by 2026.

“Data centres are significant drivers of growth in electricity demand in many regions. After globally consuming an estimated 460 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2022, data centres’ total electricity consumption could reach more than 1,000 TWh in 2026,” it said, noting that this was “roughly equivalent to the electricity consumption of Japan”.


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Power emissions seen falling 2.4% this year

The positive news is that power generated from low-emission sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear, will be adequate to meet growth in global demand for the next three years, the IEA report said, adding that power sector emissions are declining.

Following record growth, electricity generation from low-emission sources will account for almost half of the world’s power by 2026, up from less than 40% in 2023, the IEA said in report on Wednesday.

Renewables are expected to overtake coal by early 2025, accounting for more than a third of total electricity generation, the report said.

Nuclear power is also forecast to reach a record high globally as French output continues to recover from lows in 2022, several plants in Japan come back online and new reactors begin operations in markets including China, India, Korea and Europe.

Electricity demand is expected to rise on average by 3.4% from 2024 through to 2026, with about 85% of demand growth seen coming from China, India and Southeast Asia, after growth eased slightly to 2.2% in 2023, IEA data showed.

Over this period, China is expected to account for the largest share of the global increase in electricity demand in terms of volume, despite a forecast for slower economic growth and a lower reliance on heavy industry, the report said.

Meanwhile, global emissions are expected to decrease by 2.4% in 2024, followed by smaller declines in 2025 and 2026, the report said.

“The decoupling of global electricity demand and emissions would be significant given the energy sector’s increasing electrification, with more consumers using technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps,” the report said.

Electricity accounted for 2% more of final energy consumption in 2023 from 2015 levels, though reaching climate goals would require electrification to advance significantly faster in coming years, the IEA said.


# People can read the Executive Summary of the ‘Electricity 2024’ report here.


  • Reuters with additional input and editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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