EIA Predicts 50% Increase in World Energy Consumption by 2030

  • Published on June 30th, 2008

energy information agency data shows predicted energy growthWorld 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.

I’ve gleaned some of the notable highlights from the report and digested/paraphrased so you wouldn’t have to. The full report will be out in July.

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.

Renewable energy

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 non-hydroelectric renewables, especially wind and biomass. Many individual OECD countries have incentives in place to increase the penetration of non-hydroelectric 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.

Continued on page 2

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.