Total energy consumption across the globe could increase by 56% within the next three decades, driven by growth in developing countries such as India and China.
The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new report predicts world energy usage could rise from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2010 to 630 quadrillion Btu by 2020 and to 820 quadrillion Btu by 2040.
Much of the growth is forecast to occur in countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), known as non-OECD where demand is driven by “strong, long-term economic growth”. Energy use in non-OECD countries is expected to rise by 90% whereas OECD nations will only see a 17% increase.
EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said: “Rising prosperity in China and India is a major factor in the outlook for global energy demand. These two countries combined account for half the world’s total increase in energy use through 2040. This will have a profound effect on the development of world energy markets.”
The EIA’s report suggests clean fuel technology will play an important role, with renewable energy and nuclear power expected to grow faster (each by 2.5%) than fossil fuels through 2040 although the latter will continue supplying almost 80% of global energy use.
Global natural gas usage is forecast to grow by 1.7% every year while nuclear power generation is expected to rise from 2.6 trillion kWh in 2010 to 5.5 trillion kWh in 2040.
David Hunter, Analyst at Schneider Electric Professional Services told ELN the projections for energy usage growth are no surprise.
He said: “Developed countries’ energy efficiency measures will largely offset slow but steady economic growth whereas the developing world will drive significant consumption increases across fuel types.
“Currently 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity; over the coming decades developing nations will accommodate economic growth and citizens’ lifestyle aspirations by dramatically developing energy infrastructure. While much of this growth will come in China and India, we also see a divergence between those two countries; Indian industrial demand will triple by 2040 while China’s will peak around 2025 and then decline, as the economy matures, demographics change and energy intensity reduces.”
Mr Hunter added: “There are huge geopolitical factors to consider – not least the shift in energy ‘power’ from OPEC towards the US and other countries that can benefit from shale resources. Consumption growth will place pressure on the UK’s energy security and costs – we will be a declining player in a ‘global race’ for resources and policy decisions being taken now will have a profound effect on how this turns out for UK homes and businesses. The energy mix, level of reliance on imports and the prices we will have to pay for diverse and sustainable supply will have a huge bearing on economic growth – there is little margin for error.”
Last month the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted power generated through renewable sources could overtake gas by 2018.