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IEA World Energy Outlook 2005: Not Sustainable


The just-released 2005 edition of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO 2005) projects world energy demand to increase by more than 50% between now and 2030, assuming policies remain unchanged.

Although the IEA estimates world energy resources are adequate to meet this demand, the implications of the investment required and the rise in CO2 emissions (52% higher than today), lead to “a future that is not sustainable,” according to William C. Ramsay, Deputy Executive Director of the IEA.

These projected trends have important implications and lead to a future that is not sustainable—from an energy-security or environmental perspective. We must change these outcomes and get the planet onto a sustainable energy path.

—William C. Ramsay

WEO 2005 focuses closely on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In the MENA region, domestic energy demand is driven by surging populations, economic growth and heavy energy subsidies. Primary energy demand more than doubles by 2030.

At the same time, MENA oil production will increase, according to the IEA, by 75% by 2030 and natural gas production will treble, allowing more gas exports. The region’s share in global oil production will increase from 35% today to 44% in 2030. However, this means the countries of the Middle East and North Africa would need to invest, on average, $56 billion per year in energy infrastructure. The level of upstream oil investment required will be more than twice that of the last decade.

WEO 2005 also develops two other scenarios, each of them far from unlikely: a Deferred Investment Scenario, in which investment in the producing countries is delayed, whether deliberately or inadvertently; and a World Alternative Policy Scenario, in which energy-importing countries take determined action to cut demand and change the pattern of fuel use, driven by high prices, environmental or security goals, or all three.

The two scenarios have significant implications for MENA countries. In the Deferred Investment Scenario, energy prices rise sharply. Global energy-demand growth falls, cutting the region’s oil and gas export revenues by more than $1 trillion from 2004-2030. World GDP growth slows down. Deferred investment could be the result of many factors, but whatever the cause, the results are higher prices, greater uncertainty and market inefficiencies.

Under the WEO World Alternative Policy Scenario, global oil and gas demand growth is lower, but the world continues to rely heavily on MENA oil and gas. CO2 emissions fall 16% below the level of the Reference Scenario—but still increase around 30% by 2030.

The IEA revised its assumptions about future international energy prices “significantly upwards” in WEO-2005 as a result of changed market expectations after years of underinvestment in oil production and the refinery sector.

In the IEA Reference Scenario, the agency assumes the price of oil eases to around $35 per barrel in 2010 (in year-2004 dollars) as new crude oil production and refining capacity comes on stream. It is then assumed to rise slowly, to near $39 in 2030. In the Deferred Investment Scenario the oil price reaches $52 in 2030.


Harvey D

Present increasing energy consumption is NOT SUSTAINABLE from a fossil fuel supply outlook and probably DANGEROUS from an environnmental point of view if we don't make the transistion to CLEANER energy quickly enough.

The greatest devourers of energy among the developed countries, in million BTU per capita, Luxembourg and Iceland (482), Canada (428), Singapore (414), Norway (393), USA (340), Australia (261), Belgium (260), Holland (249), Sweeden (234), Finland (234), New Zealand (226), France (187), Taiwan (185), South Korea (181), Austria (179), Japan (176), Germany (173), UK (166), Denmark (165), Spain (150), Italy (139), etc... will have to find ways to reduce consumption or switch to CLEANER energy sources.

The Canada + USA per capita consumption is about 2.5 times the western Europe with similar climate and standards of living. We have not tried hard enough.

The good news is that USA has reduced its per capita energy consumption by 2% during the last 23 years but western Europe has increased theirs by 12% in the same period and Canada had a 6% increase. The world had a 3.9% increase in the same period but Asia had 69% increase.

The bad news is that China (35) had an increase of 100% and India (14) had an increase of 113%. Considering the huge population and fast increase in energy consumption in those two countries, it could offset any reductions in Europe and America.

Energy does not have to be from fossil sources nor a major source of pollution and conservation programs can reduce overconsumption. The introduction of more efficient Hybrids, PHEVs and EVs on a very large scale could translate into a major reduction in total fossil energy consumption and challenge IEA's 2005 outlook.

The transition to cleaner PHEVs and EVs vehicles will require significant increase in electricity consumption to recharge the on-board batteries. The tendency to use cheap dirty coal to produce additional electricity should be avoided if we want to protect the environnment. Large scale Wind and Sun power plants should be considered to produce CLEAN electricity to replace fossil fuel. Cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel could be produced in limited quantities for special applications.


"Not Sustainable" what an obvious conclusion.

I am somewhere in asia and i never see any solar collectors(except those roof top water heater). Wind generator simply sound so alien to me and i can only can see it in GCC and Total Annihilation(a pc game :p). I dont even know whether those plug and play solar panel unit is legal here.

Tim Russell

One thing to note about the BTU usage. Several of the countries that use the most have cold climates and longer heating seasons. Canada (my native land:-), Norway, Iceland

Harvey D

Tim: Your assumption should normally be true but there must be many other reasons and abnormalities to justify Luxembourg and Iceland in first place; Canada and Singapore in third and fourth places and Northern Europe countries at about half the American/Canadian average.

Some pretend that the size of the country and population density are the main drivers, but it too does not hold scrutiny.

Acquired living style and high energy using habits driven by lower energy cost may play a major role. Europeans use high speed efficient electric trains where we use unefficient heavy personnal vehicles. Their cities are more compact and dwellers make more extensive use of mass transportation and bycycles instead of gas guzzling large cars, 4 x 4 and pick-ups. Houses in Europeans northern countries are better insulated and require less energy, etc..

For Canada, producing more and more fossil fuel extracted from tar sands plus a few million tons of aluminium and paper for export does not help our per capita energy consumption.

Buy the way, the mean temperature in American/Canadian Cites are about the same as in the Western European cities, and that's where the majority of the people live.


I wonder if these figures were adjusted for Iceland's heavy use of geothermal energy. I would guess their per capita fossil fuel use is much lower than the figure cited.

Harvey D

Tom: The stats are for energy consumption from all sources including geothermal. However, it is difficult to determine what percentage was used for local needs and for direct or indirect exports.

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