World marketed energy consumption is projected to increase by 50 percent from 2005 to 2030, according to a new report from the United States Energy Information Agency. Total energy demand in non-OECD countries is projected to increase by 95 percent, while OECD countries are expected to increase consumption by 24 percent.
According to the annual report, International Energy Outlook, the robust growth in demand among the non-OECD nations is largely the result of strong projected economic growth. In all the non-OECD regions combined, economic activity is predicted to increase by 5.2 percent per year, as compared with an average of 2.3 percent per year for the OECD countries.
Carbon dioxide emissions
World carbon dioxide emissions will continue to increase steadily in the IEO2008 reference case, from 28.1 billion metric tons in 2005 to 34.3 billion metric tons in 2015 and 42.3 billion metric tons in 2030—an increase of 51 percent over the projection period. With strong economic growth and continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels expected for most of the non-OECD economies, much of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions is projected to occur among the developing, non-OECD nations. In 2005, non-OECD emissions exceeded OECD emissions by 7 percent. In 2030, however, non-OECD emissions are projected to exceed OECD emissions by 72 percent.
Coal and carbon
In the absence of national policies and/or binding international agreements that would limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, world coal consumption is projected to increase from 123 quadrillion Btu in 2005 to 202 quadrillion Btu in 2030, at an average annual rate of 2.0 percent. Coal’s share of world energy use has increased sharply over the past few years, largely because of strong increases in coal use in China, which has nearly doubled since 2000 and is poised to increase strongly in the future. China alone accounts for 71 percent of the increase in world coal consumption in the IEO2008 reference case. The United States and India—both of which also have extensive domestic coal resources—each account for 9 percent of the world increase.
The outlook for fossil-fuel-fired generation could be altered substantially by international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The electric power sector offers some of the most cost-effective opportunities for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in many countries. Coal—the world’s most widely used source of energy for power generation—is also the most carbon-intensive. If a cost, either implicit or explicit, were applied to emitters of carbon dioxide, there are several alternative no- or low-emission technologies that currently are commercially proven or under development, which could be used to replace some coal-fired generation. Implementing the technologies would not require expensive, large-scale changes in the power distribution infrastructure or in electricity-using equipment. It could be more difficult, however, to achieve similar results in end-use sectors like transportation.
Worldwide, the consumption of hydroelectricity and other renewable energy sources will increase by 2.1 percent per year in the IEO2008 reference case, from 35 quadrillion Btu in 2005 to 59 quadrillion Btu in 2030. In the non-OECD nations, much of the growth in renewable energy consumption is projected to come from mid- to large-scale hydroelectric facilities in Asia and in Central and South America, where several countries have hydropower facilities either planned or under construction. Among the OECD nations, hydroelectricity is fairly well established, and with the exception of Canada and Turkey there are few plans to undertake major hydroelectric power projects in the future.
Increases in OECD renewable energy consumption are expected to be in the form of nonhydroelectric renewables, especially wind and biomass. Many individual OECD countries have incentives in place to increase the penetration of nonhydroelectric renewable electricity sources, both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to promote energy security, and in the IEO2008 projections OECD renewable generation grows by 1.6 percent per year from 2005 to 2030, faster than all the other sources of electricity of generation except natural gas.
Worldwide natural gas consumption in the IEO2008 reference case increases from 104 trillion cubic feet in 2005 to 158 trillion cubic feet in 2030. Natural gas is expected to replace oil wherever possible. Moreover, because natural gas combustion produces less carbon dioxide than coal or petroleum products, governments may encourage its use to displace the other fossil fuels as national or regional plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions begin to be implemented. Natural gas is expected to remain a key energy source for industrial sector uses and electricity generation throughout the projection period. The industrial sector, which is the world’s largest consumer of natural gas, accounts for 43 percent of projected natural gas use in 2030. In the electric power sector, natural gas is an attractive choice for new generating plants because of its relative fuel efficiency. Electricity generation accounts for 35 percent of the world’s total natural gas consumption in 2030.
Non-OECD countries will account for more than 90 percent of the world’s total growth in production from 2005 to 2030.
Electricity generation from nuclear power is projected to increase from about 2.6 trillion kilowatthours in 2005 to 3.8 trillion kilowatthours in 2030. Higher capacity utilization rates have been reported for many existing nuclear facilities, and it is anticipated that most of the older nuclear power plants in the OECD countries and non-OECD Eurasia will be granted extensions to their operating lives. Still, there is considerable uncertainty associated with nuclear power.
Issues that could slow the expansion of nuclear power in the future include plant safety, radioactive waste disposal, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which continue to raise public concerns in many countries and may hinder the development of new nuclear power reactors.
The take home:
- It is no surprise that world energy use consumption will continue to grow, but the bulk of the growth will be from less economically developed countries. The key here will to be encourage the development of appropriate technologies and infrastructure.
- Liquid fuels will move almost exclusively into the transportation sector and natural gas will replace oil in most of those cases. Natural gas is much cleaner than coal and can be used to throttle systems for peak demands and to smooth the spikes caused by wind-generated electricity.
- Coal consumption will continue to grow assuming their is no new major policy action on carbon - though the report does seem to hint that such action is likely...eventually.
- The full report will be out in July.
[Originally published at Red, Green, and Blue]