EIA projects 28% increase in world energy use by 2040

World energy consumption will grow by 28% between 2015 and 2040, according to the Energy Information Administration’s just-released International Energy Outlook 2017 (IEO2017).

Most of this growth is expected to come from countries that are not a part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and especially in countries where demand is driven by strong economic growth, particularly in Asia.

Non-OECD Asia (which includes China and India) accounts for more than 60% of the world's total increase in energy consumption from 2015 through 2040, according to the Outlook.

Through 2040, the IEO2017 projects increased world consumption of marketed energy from all fuel sources, except for coal demand, which is projected to remain essentially flat.

“Renewables are expected to be the fastest-growing energy source, with consumption increasing by an average 2.3% per year between 2015 and 2040,” EIA reported.

The world’s second fastest-growing source of energy is projected to be nuclear power, with consumption increasing by 1.5% per year over that period.

Even though IEO2017 expects non-fossil fuels (renewables and nuclear) to grow faster than fossil fuels, fossil fuels still account for more than 75% of world energy consumption through 2040, Kallanish Energy finds.

Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel in the outlook, with global consumption increasing by 1.4% annually.

Although liquid fuels, mostly petroleum-based, remain the largest energy source throughout the IEO2017 projections, the liquids share of world marketed energy consumption is projected to fall slightly, from 33% in 2015, to 31% in 2040.

“As oil prices rise, energy consumers are expected to turn to more energy-efficient technologies and switch away from liquid fuels where possible,” EIA reported.

Compared with the strong growth in coal use in the 2000s, global coal use remains flat in EIA’s international projection. Coal is increasingly replaced by natural gas, renewables and, in China and a few other countries, nuclear power for electricity generation. Demand for coal in industrial processes is also expected to slow.

China is the world’s largest consumer of coal, but coal use is projected to decline in China by 0.6% per year from 2015 to 2040. In OECD countries, coal’s expected decline is similar, falling by 0.6% per year.

The coal share of total world energy consumption declines significantly over the projection period, from 27% in 2015, to 22% in 2040.