Developing economies in Asia lead projected growth in world energy use, says EIA


World energy consumption is projected to increase by 48 percent over the next three decades, led by strong increases in the developing world—especially in Asia, according to the International Energy Outlook 2016 released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Rising incomes in China, India, and other emerging Asia economies are a key driver of the global energy outlook. “Developing Asia accounts for more than half of the projected increase in global energy use through 2040.” said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski, adding that “his increase will have a profound effect on the development of world energy markets.”

IEA ReportClean energy technologies play an important role in the outlook, with renewables expected to be the fastest-growing energy source.

Some key findings:

  • World energy use will increase from 549 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2010 to 815 quadrillion Btu in 2040. The increase will be mainly in the developing world, driven by long-term growth in economies and populations. More than half of the total world increase in energy consumption is attributed to developing Asia.
  • The report projects renewables as the world’s fastest-growing energy source—increasing by 2.6 percent per year through 2040—but fossil fuels still supply more than three-quarters of world energy use. Although petroleum and other liquids remain the largest source of energy, the liquid fuels share of world marketed energy consumption is seen falling from 33 percent in 2012 to 30 percent in 2040.
  • Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel in the outlook. Global natural gas consumption will grow by 1.9 percent per year. Abundant natural gas resources and robust production—including rising supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane—will contribute to the strong competitive position of natural gas.
  • Coal is seen as the world’s slowest-growing energy source, rising by 0.6 percent per year through 2040. By 2030, natural gas will surpass coal to become the world’s second-largest energy source after liquid fuels, the report forecast.

Other highlights:

  • By 2040, coal, natural gas, and renewable energy sources will provide roughly equal shares (28 percent-29 percent) of world electricity generation—a significant change from 2012, when coal provided 40 percent of all power generation.
  • Hydropower and wind will be the two largest contributors to the increase in world electricity generation from renewable energy sources, together accounting for two-thirds of the total increase from 2012 to 2040. Hydropower and wind generation each will increase by about 1.9 trillion kilowatthours (kWh) Throughout the projection, the top three coal-consuming countries—China, the United States, and India—together account for more than 70 percent of the world’s coal use. China currently accounts for almost half of the world’s coal consumption, but a slowing economy and plans to implement policies to address air pollution and climate change contribute to declining coal use in China in the later years of the projection.
  • Inclusion of the CPP will substantially lower coal use in the United States from the level projected. Of the world’s three largest coal consumers, only India is projected to increase coal use throughout the projection period.
  • Worldwide electricity generation from nuclear power will increase from 2.3 trillion kWh in 2012 to 4.5 trillion kWh in 2040, as concerns about energy security and greenhouse gas emissions support the development of new nuclear generating capacity. Virtually all of the projected net expansion in the world’s installed nuclear capacity will occur in the developing world, led by China’s addition of 139 gigawatts of nuclear capacity from 2012 to 2040.
  • The industrial sector continues to account for the largest share of delivered energy consumption, using over half of global delivered energy in 2040.
  • Worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from 32 billion metric tons in 2012 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 43 billion metric tons in 2040, a 34 percent increase from 2012 to 2040.


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