World energy consumption to rise 50 percent by 2050 with fossil fuels still dominant, EIA says
Energize Weekly, October 13, 2021
Global energy consumption is forecast to increase 50 percent over the next 30 years if no policies or new technologies are introduced to curb demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The sources of energy and its uses will shift – more renewable energy, a bigger rise in industrial demand for petroleum than for transportation – but under a “business-as-usual” scenario where new policies and technologies are not put in place overall energy demand will reach about 886 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) in 2050.
Petroleum and other liquid fuels will continue to be the largest energy source, 28 percent of total energy, but renewable energy, spurred by declining costs and supportive government policies, will rise to an almost equal level, the agency said in its International Energy Outlook 2021.
Renewables – led by wind and solar generation – will be the single fastest-growing energy source, more than doubling to 235 quadrillion BTUs, and becoming a major supplier of electricity, which will provide households with about half of all their energy in 2050.
Over the next 30 years, renewable generation triples to 23,477 billion kilowatt-hours, accounting for 55 percent of global electricity generation.
Despite the rapid growth in renewables, fossil fuels will still provide 70 percent of the world’s energy in 2050, according to the EIA forecast.
Coal demand would see a 13.5 percent increase. Coal use is projected to fall in the 38 developed countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but is more than offset by growth in Southeast Asia, India and other non-OECD countries.
“Industrial coal use will expand fastest in non-OECD countries, where energy-intensive industries such as iron and steel production are expanding more quickly than in OECD countries,” the EIA analysis said.
Coal for electricity generation declines just over 1 percent by 2050 to 8,115 billion kilowatt-hours, as its overall share of electricity generation drops to 19 percent from 34 percent.
Natural gas consumption is projected to rise 31 percent to 193 quadrillion BTUs. The industrial sector, mainly outside the OECD, will contribute most to the growth. Residential use of natural gas will be reduced through energy efficiency gains.
The story is similar for petroleum where the most rapid growth in demand will come from the use of the liquid as feedstock for an expanding chemical industry. Industrial demand will grow three times more quickly than demand from the transport sector.
Nuclear power also sees a decline in OECD countries, a one-third reduction in capacity to 175 gigawatts (GW), while capacity more than doubles to 253 GW elsewhere.