What’s on the world’s energy horizon?

What will the world’s energy picture look like in 2040? Expect nearly 200 nuclear plants to retire, 50% more gas demand and coal to be outstripped by renewables. So finds […]

By Vicky Ellis

What will the world’s energy picture look like in 2040?

Expect nearly 200 nuclear plants to retire, 50% more gas demand and coal to be outstripped by renewables.

So finds the latest World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency which suggests green energy goes from “strength to strength” while oil growth plateaus.

The central scenario in the report reckons world demand for two out of the three fossil fuels – coal and oil – levels out by 2040. While oil supply from OPEC countries could “fall back” and flatten out in the States, the Middle East is predicted to become a major source of oil growth.

“A well-supplied oil market in the short-term should not disguise the challenges that lie ahead, as the world is set to rely more heavily on a relatively small number of producing countries,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol.

Green shoots in full flower

Renewables are expected to make up nearly half of the world’s rise in power generation by 2040, overtaking coal as the biggest electricity source.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said: “As our global energy system grows and transforms, signs of stress continue to emerge.

“But renewables are expected to go from strength to strength and it is incredible that we can now see a point where they become the world’s number one source of electricity generation.”

Meanwhile, despite so many nuclear plants potentially put out to pasture, nuclear capacity could grow by two thirds (60%). The increase is set to be concentrated heavily in just four countries, China, India, Korea and Russia, according to the IEA report.