European power companies were more closely aligned with the requirements of net zero than those in other parts of the world in 2022, with Spanish utility Iberdrola top of the list, according to Energy Transition Rankings for the power sector from GlobalData, Energy Monitor’s parent company. 

GlobalData’s 2022 ranking assesses the world’s largest power companies by generating capacity, according to ten key energy transition metrics. These metrics include installed renewable capacity; the emissions intensity of the electricity they generate; investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging points and involvement in EVs more generally; low-carbon hydrogen production (both blue and green); and the rate at which they are decommissioning coal

It is unsurprising that Spain’s Iberdrola – Europe’s second-largest power utility by market capitalisation – topped the list in 2022. The company is the world’s largest generator of wind power, and plans to only generate low-carbon electricity by 2030. 

Other European utilities with ambitious decarbonisation plans dominate the top spots, with seven of the top ten companies hailing from Europe. France’s Engie, Italy’s Enel and Sweden’s Vattenfall are planning to reach net zero across scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions by 2045, 2040 and 2040, respectively.

Among the 38 major utilities ranked, US utilities dominate the middle spots, occupying seven of the ten positions between 11 and 20. The lower spots are dominated by utilities in emerging economies in Asia, with Chinese utilities occupying spots 30, 31, 34 and 37. 

The geographical spread of these power companies is broadly mirrored by renewable energy penetration in their respective regions. As the chart below indicates, Europe has a significantly greater renewables penetration than North America and Asia. 

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European power utilities have become particularly climate-conscious in the context of EU legislators long-maintaining one of the most comprehensive decarbonisation policy agendas worldwide.

More generally, the power company rankings from GlobalData reflect how – other than a few notable leaders – the vast majority of the global power generation industry remains far from meeting the requirements of net zero

This outcome chimes with the most recent net-zero tracking report from the International Energy Agency, which was published at the start of July 2023.

In the power sector, only solar is deemed to be “On track” with what is required for net zero by 2050. Natural gas, wind, hydropower, demand response, nuclear and smart grids are all given the amber label “More effort is needed”. Coal is given the red label “Not on track”.

This article was amended on 10 August 2023 to highlight the fact that the data featured in the article is based on GlobalData's 2022 assessment. Previously, no date was specified.