Electricity security report cover

Energy Security

Reliable, affordable access to all fuels and energy sources

The IEA was created to ensure secure and affordable energy supplies, and it conducts analysis on current and future risks for oil supply disruption, emerging gas security challenges, and increasing system flexibility and resilience of the electricity sector. But energy transitions and the growth of cyber criminality have expanded the scope of what constitutes energy security.

Electricity security

A major structural change in the electricity generation around the world

The clean energy transition is bringing a major structural change in the generation profile of electricity systems around the world. Variable renewable generation has already surged over the past decade, driven by cost reductions and favourable policy environments, a trend that is set to continue and even accelerate in line with climate change objectives. Meanwhile, conventional power plants, notably those using coal, nuclear and hydro, are stagnating or in decline. While proper policies can ensure reliable energy access during the transition, the diffuse and decentralized nature of much renewable generation does raise the risk of cyberattacks and many clean energy technologies rely on metals and minerals that are in tight supply or whose production is dominated by a limited number of nations.

Share of variable renewables in the global electricity mix, 2015-2024

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Oil security

One of the IEA's core activities is ensuring the security of oil supplies by setting stockholding requirements for member countries

In accordance with the Agreement on an International Energy Programme, each IEA country has an obligation to ensure it holds total oil stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of net oil imports. In case of a severe oil supply disruption, IEA members may decide to release these stocks to the market as part of a collective action.

IEA total oil stocks, end-March 2024

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Emergency response measures

Oil security and emergency response

Ensuring energy security has been at the centre of the IEA’s mission since its creation in 1974, following the oil crisis in 1973. Today, the global oil market remains vulnerable to a wide range of risk factors, including natural disasters, major technical accidents, and geo-political tensions. As oil is expected to remain a major component of global energy demand for the coming decades, particularly for the transportation sector, maintaining the IEA emergency response capability will continue to remain essential.

In accordance with the Agreement on an International Energy Programme (I.E.P.), each IEA country has an obligation to hold oil stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of net oil imports and to be ready to collectively respond to severe supply disruptions affecting the global oil market. In the event of an actual or potentially severe oil supply disruption, the IEA Secretariat first assesses the potential market impact of such a disruption and the need for a coordinated response. The decision to initiate a collective action is made following an assessment of the disruption and the current market conditions. If the disruption is determined to be sufficiently large so that global energy markets would be significantly affected, an IEA collective action may be recommended.

Since the creation of the IEA, there have been five collective actions: in the build up to the Gulf War in 1991; after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged offshore oil rigs, pipelines and oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005; in response to the prolonged disruption of oil supply caused by the Libyan Civil War in 2011, and two during the Ukraine-crisis, the first in March 2022 and the second in April 2022.