World Energy Use Will Grow by 53%, Led by China and India

09/26/2011
SustainableBusiness.com News

The world's energy consumption is expected to grow 53% by 2035, according to the International Energy Outlook 2011 by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Fully half of that growth will come from China and India, where energy use is expected to more than double by 2035. EIA expects the two countries combined to consume  31% of the world's energy, up from 21% today. 

The good news is that renewable energy will be the fastest growing primary energy source during that time. Renewables, which accounted for 10% of demand in 2008, will grow by 2.8% a year and supply 15% of the world's energy in 2035.

The bad news is that fossil fuels will still be the dominant energy source by far, supplying 78% of the world's energy.

The transportation sector will account for 60% of the world's use of liquid fuels by 2035 (up from 54% in 2008), and 82% of the increase.

World oil prices will remain high, reaching $125 a barrel in 2035. Although demand will rise by 26.9 million barrels a day (from 2008 levels), less than half of that will come from conventional crude. 

Among fossil fuels, demand for natural gas will increase the most, by 52%, including a vast increase in environmentally damaging technologies such as hydraulic fracking

World production of unconventional natural gas sources (biofuels, oil sands, extra-heavy oil, coal-to-liquids, and gas-to-liquids), which totaled 3.9 million barrels a day in 2008, increases to 13.1 million barrels per day in 2035.

EIA estimates nuclear energy will almost double - but that doesn't account for Japan's nuclear disaster, which has since  led many countries away from that energy source.

Emissions Rise Dramatically, Mostly in Developing Nations

As a result of this continued reliance on emissions-intensive fuel sources, carbon emissions will increase by a mind-numbing 43%, much of it in developing nations.  

This strong increase in emissions, at a time when climate change may well be at a tipping point, underscores the need for developed nations to provide financial aid to help developing nations quickly ramp up cean energy sources.

Comparisons of expected energy use in developed and developing nations reveal stark differences in growth over the next 25 years. Energy use in countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will increase by 85%, while in OECD economies the growth will be 18%.

"Concerns about fiscal sustainability and financial turbulence suggest that economic recovery in the OECD countries will not be accompanied by the higher growth rates associated with past recoveries," the report states. "In contrast, growth remains high in many emerging economies.

China, which recently topped the US as the world's top energy consumer, is projected to use 68% more energy than the US by 2035," says Acting EIA Administrator Howard Gruenspecht.

The EIA notes the report reflects current laws and policies as of the start of 2011, but doesn't consider prospective legislation  that could affect energy markets. It points out that policy changes could significantly impact the rate of renewable energy deployment.