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World energy consumption to grow 56% by 2040

Energy usage will grow to 820 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

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Our consumption of energy is only going to increase.
Our consumption of energy is only going to increase.

World energy consumption will grow by a staggering 56% between 2010 and 2040.

That’s according to the new International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013).

From a level of 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2010, energy usage will grow to 820 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

Much of the growth in energy consumption occurs in countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), known as non-OECD, where demand is driven by strong, long-term economic growth. Energy use in non-OECD countries increases by 90%; in OECD countries, the increase is 17%.

The reports predicts that renewable energy and nuclear power will be the world's fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5 percent per year. Fossil fuels, however, will still supply almost 80% of the world’s energy in 2040.

Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel in the outlook. Global natural gas consumption increases by 1.7% per year. Increasing supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane support growth in projected worldwide natural gas use. Coal use grows faster than petroleum and other liquid fuel use until after 2030, mostly because of increases in China's consumption of coal and tepid growth in liquids demand attributed to slow growth in the OECD regions and high sustained oil prices.

The industrial sector continues to account for the largest share of delivered energy consumption; the world industrial sector still consumes over half of global delivered energy in 2040. Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040, a 46% increase.

The world is still recovering from the effects of the 2008-2009 global recession. As these effects continue to be felt, many unresolved economic issues add to the uncertainty associated with this year’s long-term assessment of world energy markets. Currently, there is wide variation in the economic performance of different countries and regions around the world.

Among the more mature OECD regions, the pace of growth varies but generally is slow in comparison with the emerging economies of the non-OECD regions. In the United States and Europe, short- and long-term debt issues remain largely unresolved and are key sources of uncertainty for future growth. Economic recovery in the United States has been weaker than the recoveries from past recessions, although expansion is continuing.

In contrast, many European countries fell back into recession in 2012, and the regionss economic performance has continued to lag. Japan, whose economy had been sluggish before the devastating earthquake in March 2011, is recovering from its third recession in three years. Questions about the timing and extent of a return to operation for Japan's nuclear power generators compound the uncertainty surrounding its energy outlook.

In contrast to the OECD nations, developing non-OECD economies, particularly in non-OECD Asia, have led the global recovery from the 2008-2009 recession. China and India have been among the world's fastest growing economies for the past two decades. From 1990 to 2010, China's economy grew by an average of 10.4% per year and India's by 6.4% per year.

Although economic growth in the two countries remained strong through the global recession, both slowed in 2012 to rates much lower than analysts had predicted at the start of the year. In 2012, real GDP in China increased by 7.2%, its lowest annual growth rate in 20 years. India's real GDP growth slowed to 5.5% in 2012.

The world's real gross domestic product (GDP, expressed in purchasing power parity terms) rises by an average of 3.6% per year from 2010 to 2040. The fastest rates of growth are projected for the emerging, non-OECD regions, where combined GDP increases by 4.7% per year.

In the OECD regions, GDP grows at a much slower rate of 2.1% per year over the projection, owing to more mature economies and slow or declining population growth trends. The strong growth in non- OECD GDP drives the fast-paced growth in future energy consumption projected for these nations.

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