The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook 2011 predicts world energy use will increase 53 percent by 2035. While renewables will see a solid increase in contributing to the world’s energy needs, the outlook isn’t bright when it comes to carbon emissions from the global electricity sector.
The EIA says China and India will account for half of the total growth in energy use and China is projected to use 68 percent more energy than the United States by 2035.
So, where will all this energy come from?
Unfortunately, our fossil fuel addiction will maintain its stranglehold and still account for 78 percent of world energy use by that year says the EIA.
Global natural gas consumption will increase 1.6 percent per year and unconventional natural gas such as coal seam methane (CSG) will also increase substantially.
The EIA expects petroleum and other liquid fuels remain the largest energy source worldwide through 2035 but their share of total energy use will drop from 34 percent in 2008 to 29 percent by that year.
In the Reference Case, global coal consumption increases an average annual rate of 1.5 percent, with China alone accounting for 76 percent of the projected net increase.
This carbon and fossil-fuel stained snapshot of the future does have a few clean spots.
Renewables will be the fastest growing source of new electricity generation, increasing by 3.0 percent – more than the average annual increases for natural gas (2.6 percent), nuclear power (2.4 percent), and coal (1.9 percent). Renewable energy consumption overall is projected to increase by 2.8 percent per year and the renewable share of total global energy use will hit 15 percent in 2035 in the EIA’s Reference Case.
However, perhaps dashing hopes of decreasing global carbon emissions over the medium term, the EIA Reference Case paints this disturbing scenario – energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will rise from 30.2 billion metric tons in 2008 to 43.2 billion metric tons in 2035 – an increase of 43 percent.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The full EIA International Energy Outlook 2011 can be viewed here.