Global Energy Outlook and the Future of Energy Consumption 2016-2040
By admin February 10, 2016

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What will the world’s energy consumption look like in 2040? According to the latest ExxonMobil’s Global Energy Outlook report, global energy demand would rise by about 140 percent from 2010 to 2040. Nevertheless, the increasing efficiency in all sectors, from vehicles to buildings to industries, would push down the energy consumption per unit to the extent that the consumption would increase by only 35 percent. The report also categorizes the trends in the next 30 years into three major developments: China & India, 10 Key Growth countries, and the 34 developed economies of OECD. The first group, China and India, are expected to account for half the growth in global energy demand due to the pressure of their population and the increasing standards of living. Key growth countries represent developing countries in the South and as diverse as Brazil, Mexico (Latin America), South Africa, Nigeria (Africa), Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (MENA). Finally, OECD countries are the developed economies which are expected to show a plateau in their energy demands as well as their CO2 emissions in the next three decades.


The main drivers of the energy demand in non-OECD countries will be an explosion of their middle class between 2010 and 2030. It is estimated that 2.8 billion people will join the middle-income population in China, India and key growth countries swelling the middle class by 80 percent. The rise of the middle class will increase non-OECD energy consumption by 70 percent. China and key growth countries each, would account for 30 percent of the increase while India would contribute 20 percent. This expanding global middle class will also drive fuel demand for transportation through 2040 by 40 percent. The major share of transportation energy demand, however, belongs to the commercial sector. This sector includes heavy-duty vehicles, marine, aviation and rail systems. In comparison, energy demand for personal vehicles will rise only slightly in the same period. Urbanization, mostly in Asia and Africa, will increase residential energy demand by 50 percent in these regions. As for the industrial sector, total energy demand is projected to rise by about 40 percent through 2040. Although China’s economy is expected to expand, the lion share of that expansion would belong to services and technologically advanced light manufacturing. Therefore, the Chinese energy demand will decline to a level only modestly higher than in 2013. India and other key growth countries, however, will experience a rise in their industrial demand growth.


The energy demand story is totally different in OECD countries. OECD transportation energy needs will fall by about 10 percent. Improved household efficiency will cause a net decline in residential energy demand in the North America and Europe. Moreover, industrial activity will migrate over time towards areas with ready access to affordable labor, raw materials, energy and capital, as well as growing demand for goods. Thus, it is plausible to expect that OECD countries are going to experience declines in energy demands.


Besides identifying these trends, and an overall migration of global demand from developed to developing/underdeveloped countries, the report reveals curious assumptions and insights. First, in spite of the recent hype over renewable energy industry and technological leapfrogging in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the report projects a constant global reliance on the traditional forms of energy. It is estimated that a combination of traditional sources would account for 80 percent of global energy supply. Over time, however, there will be less coal consumption and a migration from oil to natural gas resources. In a recent seminar at Florida International University, a guest speaker from ExxonMobil stated that, at least for the near future, traditional forms of energy will be economically advantageous to renewable energy initiatives. While this might be true for now, renewable energy technologies have experienced constant improvements in efficiency and a decline in installation/maintenance costs. Nevertheless, government’s support and financing for improvements and R&D is extremely critical for further commercialization and growth of the industry. Secondly, the report is overtly optimistic when it comes to technological innovations in industries that consume traditional energy, while it remains silent about possible breakthroughs and revolutions in renewable energy. While a commercial Crystalline-Si solar panel performs with 16 to 19 percent efficiency, innovative solar panels in laboratories promise higher efficiencies up to 45 percent. Innovation is a two-way street: it will improve both traditional energy consumers as well as renewable energy technologies. Finally, fast-growing middle-class populations in Asia and Africa and their inevitable energy demands should alarm policymakers to pay closer attention to the gaps in energy infrastructure and motivate them to develop comprehensive investment/policy strategies to meet these rising demands. After all, innovation alone might not be a sufficient answer to all of our emerging challenges.


For more information:

The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040

The Future arrives for Five Clean Energy Technologies (2015 Update)

NREL Report shows Big Potential for the Future of Shared Solar

Stable supply of energy critical to Africa’s future

Thanks for sharing !

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