Share of fossil gas in global electricity (%)
The 'golden age' of gas is over
After decades of uninterrupted growth, gas power has plateaued since the pandemic. It was dealt a fatal blow in 2022 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused skyrocketing gas prices worldwide. The gas crisis in 2022 may lead to a permanent shift, as it revealed vulnerabilities of the global gas supply chain and prompted many countries to reconsider the role of gas in their power mix.
Ember’s Global Electricity Review revealed that gas slightly fell in 2022, which is the second fall in three years. With fossil gas forecast to be the most expensive fuel in most countries over the coming years, including the EU, even its near-term future is in doubt. In 2022, for the first time, the IEA said that fossil gas will plateau this decade.
According to the IEA Net Zero Emissions scenario, gas would account for 13% of the global power mix in 2030. To be on this path, gas generation must fall by 3% every year from 2021 to 2030. The IEA says OECD countries must have net zero power sectors by 2035, and the rest of the world’s electricity must reach net zero by 2040. Countries should now make clear targets for ending the use of gas in their power sectors, with only a small role expected for gas with CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage).
Last updated: April 2023
The world's biggest fossil gas generators
Fossil gas is not a bridge to a safe climate
Once seen as a bridge fuel to fill the gap whilst clean power grew, recent events have revealed the folly of relying on gas. The 2021 global gas price crisis pushed energy bills to new heights – and then in 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine, skyrocketing gas prices to truly unprecedented levels.
Burning gas produces CO2 emissions, and gas leaks during the production and transportation of the fuel are a source of a greenhouse gas even more potent in the short term, methane. But the good news is that we have cleaner and cheaper alternatives like wind and solar that can rapidly replace it.
Our analysis shows that coal and gas power can be phased-out at the same time – if the country builds enough clean power. Countries like the United Kingdom have successfully reduced their dependence on coal and gas – thanks to the build-out of technologies like offshore wind. This saves consumers money, as well as reducing exposure to volatile international imports of fuel.