Decarbonisation and energy system transformation

2021 Electric Utilities Benchmark

Measuring the 50 most influential companies on their progress to 1.5°C

We have assessed the 50 most globally influential electric utility companies on their alignment to a low-carbon world and compared the results against our 2020 Benchmark findings.

The ambition of the scenario used for these 2021 assessments has increased: in 2020, we assessed companies against a pathway built on the International Energy Agency (IEA) B2DS (Beyond 2°C) Scenario, and in 2021, against an IEA Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (1.5°C) pathway.

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Four key findings

See below the four key findings from the benchmark results, including comparison against previous findings, as well as a deeper dive into findings across each performance module assessed. The Electric Utilities Benchmark 2021 shows evidence of improvements in the low-carbon performance of some of the companies and one company clearly leading with an ACT rating of 18.5A+.

Nonetheless, it is clear that companies on the whole are not yet transitioning sufficiently to align with a 1.5°C world, even in this sector which has the technology available to decarbonise. These companies should look to good practice of their peers in stronger leadership, more investment into a low carbon future and greater transparency to scale the low-carbon ambition and performance gap that exists in the sector.  

Key finding

State of decarbonisation in the electric utilities sector disappointingly low

The electric utilities sector started decarbonising before all others, which means it has the most advanced and mature technologies for the low-carbon transition and acts as the enabler for other sectors to decarbonize. However, the sector itself is a long way from keeping within the goal of 1.5°C. WBA’s second benchmark for this sector evidences the low-carbon performance of 70% of the assessed companies is expected to worsen in the near future. Persistent fossil fuel reliance for electricity generation indicates that 98% of companies are expected to exceed their carbon budgets by 2035.

Key finding

Companies’ targeted emissions reduction falls short of the 1.5C goal

Targets of electric utility companies to reduce emissions are falling short of the 1.5°C goal. While we see that nearly half the companies have improved target ambition and disclosure since the 2020 benchmark, 47 of the 50 companies assessed have not aligned their targets with their 1.5°C pathway. Our assessments also evidence that the majority of companies’ low-carbon plans remain inadequate to bring about a rapid transition to low-carbon electricity generation.

Key finding

Lack of disclosure on power generation CapEx limits sector’s progress on the benchmark

Increasing investment, research and development (R&D) into low-carbon technologies, and scaling new business models is vital to enable the sector’s decarbonisation. To be fully aligned with a 1.5°C pathway, companies must be spending over 78% of their generation capital expenditure (CapEx) on low-carbon power generation. The 2021 benchmark forecasts that 40% of the assessed companies that have disclosed data on their power generation CapEx, are likely to be spending over this level by 2023. This progress, however, is compromised by the overall lack of CapEx disclosure by many companies and the continued investment and reliance on fossil fuels by large state-owned companies in particular.

Key finding

Electric utilities are making efforts for a just transition, but have room for improvement

The global transition to a well-functioning low-carbon economy can only be successful if it is socially just – that is, if the people at the heart of the current carbon-intensive systems are identified and engaged as agents of change. The 50 keystone electric utilities assessed in the benchmark were also evaluated in WBA’s 2021 pilot Just Transition Assessment. The results show that they are on average more advanced than the oil and gas and automotive companies in working towards a just transition. However, there is still wide disparity between the efforts and considerable room for improvement.

Find out the performance of the electric utility companies

View ranking

Further reading

  • Insights Report

    This report builds on the above mentioned key findings and module level summaries in detail and dives further into the results of the benchmark.

    See report here
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  • Data

    Access the data sheet which compiles module and indicator scoring and details regarding companies’ engagement with the data validation process and data availability. A more detailed version of this sheet, with more company-level score information, will be available in 1-2 weeks.

    See datasheet here
  • ACT and WBA - Technical FAQs

    These FAQs' explain technical aspects of how the ACT methodologies are used to assess companies in high emitting sectors and create WBA's Climate and Energy Benchmark.

    See FAQs here

The 50 keystone electric utility companies

Click the map to explore each company, depending on the region you would like to learn about and the location of headquarters

Locations

  • Title: Iberdrola
    Place: Bilbao, Spain
    Description:
  • Title: Inter RAO
    Place: Moscow, Russian Federation
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  • Title: Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO)
    Place: Osaka, Japan
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  • Title: Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO/Hanjeon)
    Place: Naju-si, Republic of Korea
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  • Title: Kyushu Electric Power
    Place: Fukuoka, Japan
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  • Title: Nextera Energy
    Place: Juno Beach, Florida, United States of America
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  • Title: NTPC
    Place: New Delhi, India
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  • Title: Origin Energy
    Place: Sydney, Australia
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  • Title: Ørsted
    Place: Fredericia, Denmark
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  • Title: Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)
    Place: San Francisco, California, United States of America
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  • Title: Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN)
    Place: Jakarta, Indonesia
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  • Title: RWE
    Place: Essen, Germany
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  • Title: Saudi Electricity Company (SEC)
    Place: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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  • Title: Southern Co
    Place: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
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  • Title: SSE 
    Place: Perth, United Kingdom
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  • Title: State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC) (国家电力投资集团)
    Place: Beijing, China
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  • Title: Taiwan Power Company (台灣電力公司)
    Place: Taipei City, Taiwan, China
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  • Title: Tenaga Nasional
    Place: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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  • Title: Tohoku Electric Power
    Place: Sendai, Japan
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  • Title: Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)
    Place: Tokyo, Japan
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  • Title: Vattenfall
    Place: Solna, Sweden
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  • Title: Vistra Energy Corp
    Place: Irving, Texas, United States of America
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  • Title: Xcel Energy
    Place: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America
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  • Title: AES Corporation
    Place: Arlington, Virginia, United States of America
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  • Title: AGL Energy
    Place: Sydney, Australia
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  • Title: American Electric Power (AEP)
    Place: Columbus, Ohio, United States of America
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  • Title: CEZ Group
    Place: Prague, Czech Republic
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  • Title: China Datang Corp (中国大唐集团)
    Place: Beijing, China
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  • Title: China Energy Investment Group (CHN Energy) (国家能源投资集团)
    Place: Beijing, China
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  • Title: China Huadian Corporation (中国华电集团)
    Place: Beijing, China
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  • Title: China Huaneng Group (中国华能集团)
    Place: Beijing, China
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  • Title: China Three Gorges (中国长江三峡集团)
    Place: Beijing, China
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  • Title: Chubu Electric Power
    Place: Nagoya, Japan
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  • Title: Chugoku Electric Power Company
    Place: Hiroshima, Japan
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  • Title: CLP Holdings (中電集團)
    Place: Hong Kong, China
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  • Title: Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE)
    Place: Mexico City, Mexico
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  • Title: Dominion Energy
    Place: Richmond, Virginia, United States of America
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  • Title: Duke Energy
    Place: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States of America
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  • Title: E.ON
    Place: Essen, Germany
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  • Title: EDP Energias de Portugal
    Place: Lisbon, Portugal
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  • Title: Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC)
    Place: Cairo, Egypt
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  • Title: Électricité de France (EDF)
    Place: Paris, France
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  • Title: Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
    Place: Nonthaburi, Thailand
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  • Title: Eletrobras
    Place: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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  • Title: EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg
    Place: Karlsruhe, Germany
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  • Title: Enel
    Place: Rome, Italy
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  • Title: ENGIE
    Place: Paris, France
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  • Title: Eskom Holdings
    Place: Sunninghill, South Africa
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  • Title: Exelon Corporation
    Place: Chicago, United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Fortum
    Place: Espoo, Finland
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Previous findings

  • 2020 benchmark results

    In 2020, we launched our first iteration of the Electric Utilities Benchmark, which measured the progress of 50 keystone companies in the sector towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.

    See 2020 findings