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EIA: world energy consumption to grow 56% 2010-2040, CO2 up 46%; use of liquid fuels in transportation up 38%

World energy consumption by fuel type, 2010-2040. Source: IEO2013. Click to enlarge.

The US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013) projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56% between 2010 and 2040, from 524 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) to 820 quadrillion Btu. Most of this growth will come from non-OECD (non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, where demand is driven by strong population and economic growth; energy intensity improvements moderate this trend

Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world’s fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing 2.5% per year, according to the biennial report. However, fossil fuels continue to supply nearly 80% of world energy use through 2040. Natural gas is the fastest-growing fossil fuel, as global supplies of tight gas, shale gas, and coalbed methane increase. Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040, a 46% increase over the 30-year span.

Liquid fuels. The Brent crude oil spot price averaged $112 per barrel in 2012, and EIA’s July 2013 Short-Term Energy Outlook projects averages of $105 per barrel in 2013 and $100 per barrel in 2014. With prices expected to increase in the long term, however, the world oil price in real 2011 dollars reaches $106 per barrel in 2020 and $163 per barrel in 2040, according to IEO2013.

Although liquid fuels—mostly petroleum-based—remain the largest source of energy, the liquids share of world marketed energy consumption falls from 34% in 2010 to 28% in 2040, as projected high world oil prices lead many energy users to switch away from liquid fuels when feasible.

World use of petroleum and other liquid fuels grows from 87 million barrels per day in 2010 to 97 million barrels per day in 2020 and 115 million barrels per day in 2040, according to the forecast. In the Reference case, all the growth in liquids use is in the transportation and industrial sectors.

In the transportation sector, in particular, liquid fuels continue to provide most of the energy consumed. Although advances in non-liquids-based transportation technologies are anticipated, they are not enough to offset the rising demand for transportation services worldwide.

Despite rising fuel prices, use of liquids for transportation increases by an average of 1.1% per year, or 38% overall, from 2010 to 2040. The transportation sector accounts for 63% of the total increase in liquid fuel use from 2010 to 2040, and the remainder is attributed to the industrial sector, where the chemicals industry continues to consume large quantities of petroleum throughout the projection. The use of liquids declines in the other end-use sectors and for electric power generation.

To satisfy the increase in world liquids demand in the Reference case, liquids production increases by 28.3 million barrels per day from 2010 to 2040, including the production of both petroleum (crude oil and lease condensate, natural gas plant [NGPL], bitumen, extra-heavy oil, and refinery gains), and other liquid fuels (coal-to-liquids [CTL], gas-to-liquids [GTL], biofuels, and kerogen).

The Reference case assumes that countries in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will invest in incremental production capacity in order to maintain a 39-43% share of total world liquids production through 2040, consistent with their share over the past 15 years. Increasing volumes of petroleum from OPEC producers contribute 13.8 million barrels per day to the total increase in world liquids production, and petroleum supplies from non-OPEC countries add another 11.5 million barrels per day.

Non-petroleum liquids resources from both OPEC and non-OPEC sources grow on average by 3.7% per year over the projection period, but remain a relatively minor share of total liquids supply through 2040. World production of non-petroleum liquids, which in 2010 totaled only 1.6 million barrels per day (less than 2% of total world liquids production), increases to 4.6 million barrels per day in 2040, about 4% of total world liquids production.

Source: IEO2013. Click to enlarge.

The largest components of future non-petroleum liquid fuels production are biofuels in Brazil and the United States, at 0.7 and 0.5 million barrels per day, respectively, and CTL in China, at 0.7 million barrels per day. Those three countries account for 64% of the total increase in non-petroleum liquids supply over the projection period.

The EIA report suggests that there is potential for shale oil production to increase non-OPEC supplies of liquid fuels substantially over the course of the IEO2013 projection. A study commissioned by EIA to assess shale oil resources in 41 countries outside the United States, taken in conjunction with EIA’s own assessment of resources within the United States, indicate worldwide technically recoverable resources of 345 billion barrels of shale oil resources.

Other IEO2013 highlights:

  • By 2040, China’s energy use will be double the US level; India’s a little more than half despite its faster GDP growth.

  • Coal grows faster than petroleum consumption until after 2030, mostly due to increases in China’s consumption of coal, and slow growth in oil demand in OECD member countries.

  • Almost 80% of the projected increase in renewable electricity generation is fueled by hydropower and wind power. The contribution of wind energy, in particular, has grown rapidly over the past decade and this trend continues into the future. Of the 5.4 trillion kilowatthours of new renewable generation added over the projection period, 52% is attributed to hydroelectric power and 28% to wind. Most of the growth in hydroelectric generation (82%) occurs in the non-OECD countries, while more than half of the growth in wind generation (52%) occurs in the OECD countries.

  • Electricity generation from nuclear power worldwide increases from 2.6 trillion kilowatthours in 2010 to 5.5 trillion kilowatthours in 2040, as concerns about energy security and greenhouse gas emissions support the development of new nuclear generating capacity. Factors underlying the IEO2013 nuclear power projections are mixed. They include the consequences of the March 2011 disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan; planned retirements of nuclear capacity in OECD Europe under current policies; and continued strong growth of nuclear power in non-OECD Asia.


Sean Prophet

How can the EIA continue to publish suicide projections like this? The analysis almost certainly wildly underestimates the renewable energy share and wildly overestimates the fossil energy share. If they're wrong, they're dangerously incompetent. If correct, it's a death sentence for human civilization. Nice job!


Coal is a bit scary.

@Sean, I'd say they are roughly correct
- better get the abridged version of "War and Peace".


EIA has been wrong before. Let's hope that they are wrong again?


We KNOW they're wrong, it's a question of how much damage the faulty predictions will do (by e.g. over-valuing the companies with business models assuming more petroleum available at lower prices).

Bob Wallace

Their coal prediction make no sense.

China burned 50.2% of the coal consumed in the world in 2012. They are capping coal use starting in 2015 at 2011 levels. That will mean that from 2015 on they will be burning about 6% less than they did last year. No growth there.

The US is the second largest consumer of coal at 11.7% in 2012. We're closing coal plants. We may close as much as 18% of our capacity in the next couple of years. No growth there.

India is number three. They burned 8% in 2012. India just put a tax on coal with the revenues going to solar. Hard to see much growth there.

Japan and South Korea may increase some but between them they burned only 5.5% of the 2012 total. They could double their burning and they'd be offset by China's drop.

Russia is a wild card. 2.5% share.

South Africa has just announced a bit renewables push and "delayed" the one coal plant they had purposed to build.

Germany is completing some new more efficient plants which are capable of load-following. They're going to shut down more capacity than they are building once the new plants are on line.

That's 82.4% of the world's consumption in 2012. Looks to me like coal is going to drop, not rise. Even Australia that produces over 6% of the world's coal and burns 1.3% is cutting consumption.

Hard to believe that many of the countries that burn less than 2%, the other 17.6% are going to ramp up and import a lot of coal.

Add to that the fact that investment banks are generally not financing new coal plant construction. And the World Bank just announced that they are unlikely to provide financing for new coal. Developing nations are not going to find the capital to build coal capacity.

Bob Wallace

As I recall the EIA missed the big drop in solar prices when it was clear that rapidly falling panel prices were almost certain to lower system costs.

Now they are predicting PV solar at $144.3/MWh in 2018.

We've seen two long term PPAs signed recently for solar at about $100/MWh. No subsidies included. We're already under their 2018 prediction, at least in part of the US.

Europe is installing solar for around $1.50/watt. Without subsidies. Once we catch up with Europe, probably in the next 2-3 years, that would give us utility scale solar for well under $100/MWh just about anywhere in the lower 48.



You wirte, "Their coal prediction make no sense. China burned 50.2% of the coal consumed in the world in 2012. They are capping coal use starting in 2015 at 2011 levels."

"makes no sense"? China now promises that after growing from burning 1.5b tons per year to 4b tons per year in just 14 years, growth will suddenly fall to zero forever starting in 2015. That certainly would be something.

You accept China's extraordinary pronouncement at face value and now it's your personal prediction also. Fair enough. But saying that believing things could turn out otherwise "makes no sense" implies that not translating China's assertion into a 100% guaranteed outcome is not only wrongheaded but so wildly illogical and out of bounds that you just can't get your head around the concept no matter how hard you try and try. Really? I think you can do it.


Actually, even if these predictions are completely false, it may be good they predict ridiculously high crude prices in the future (as far as someone really believes them).

In the past, when crude prices were low, almost no one invested in renewables, because they could never compete with (future) fossil prices. If for the last 40 years crude would have been at 100$/barrel and coal would be expensive, we would now be driving on NG, and the world would be as nuclear as France today. There would be much more (advanced) solar and wind.

Let them predict high crude prices (although I think we will abandon fossils much before 2040). That's exactly what we (or at least the politicians) need to finally invest significantly in renewables/nuclear (and in renewable liquids).

Bob Wallace

MQ, the Chinese government has made several statements about their intention to get their role in climate change straightened out as quickly as they can. They have stated that China will be one of the most harmed countries as our planet warms. Much of their ag land is in an area which is expected to receive much less rainfall.

They have stated that they expect to stop their CO2 level growth by 2025 rather than 2030 as they had earlier calculated. They've joined a group of ten other countries who intend to be world leaders in minimizing climate change.

In the past China has set multiple '5 year plans' for installing wind capacity, met each target early, and then set a new, more aggressive target.

They stated that the cap on coal would be starting about four years after the announcement in order to give electricity producers adequate time to adjust.

Now, there are many things wrong with the Chinese government. Free speech is not something Chinese citizens enjoy. Corrupt officials are a large problem. But when it comes to the environment it seems that leadership is serious about bringing about change.

China has some serious problems with water. They simply are using too much of their limited water to mine, wash and burn coal. They lack adequate interior cooling water resources and have decided to build no new nuclear plants inland largely due to a lack of water.

Furthermore, growth is slowing in China. They are unlikely to need the sort of rapid increase going forward like they've needed during their recent rush to development.

I can't guarantee you that the Chinese government will do as they say any more than you can guarantee that they won't. All I can do is to point at their track record on wind and repeat that they have done what they said they would do in the past.

I think a couple years back we hit a major turning point, when it became obvious to those who bothered to look, that the cost of wind and solar were clearly going to undercut thermal plant generation. If you can generate your electricity cheaper, fuel-free, and do something about minimizing climate change then a rational person is going to leave thermal plants behind. China is mainly run by engineers. They know how to do math.


Congress passed RFS and five years later...nothing. Good intentions are not enough.

Bob Wallace

"Congress passed RFS"

Renewable Fuel Standards?

How does Congress passing regulations apply to the discussion?


Bob, I hope the Chinese pull it off. Skepticism is not unreasonable, but they are clearly worried about the increasing popular anger over pollution. Perhaps even worried enough to apply the tremendous economic force needed to stop that speeding train on a dime.

I was pleasantly astonished by the US left's emerging reconsideration of its zero-tolerance stance on nuclear. Maybe I'll be pleasantly astonished again by zero growth of coal in China from 2015.


If the left is so concerned about nuclear waste, they should be pushing the US to build CANDU plants and DUPIC fuel fabrication plants.  DUPIC (Direct Use of PWR fuel In CANDU) can squeeze about another 50% worth of energy from LWR fuel without creating another gram to be disposed of, and almost the entire inventory of spent LWR fuel in the USA could be re-used this way.

Bob Wallace

MQ, I don't see any reconsideration of nuclear on the left in general. There are a couple of old guys who seem to think that nuclear would be the way to go, but those who are paying attention to the cost of renewables recognize that nuclear is priced off the table.

New nuclear is only being built with massive government support. And over one-fourth of our existing nuclear fleet is in danger of going bankrupt. We've had four US reactors shut down so far this year and could see more before the year is out.

The dropping cost of wind and solar have changed the game in the last year or two.


Wind and solar are subsidized, and amount to ~70% naturalg gas power (plus a lot of capital expenditure).

When the bubble pops and gas gets back up to the $8/mmBTU needed to make it profitable on cash flow, we'll see how competitive the "renewables" remain.  IOW, not very.


Fossil fuels will only last another century or so and will become more expensive as supply is reduced. Bio-fuels production is limited by available land, cost and total GHG impact.

Nuclear energy is or could become an acceptable compromise but safety, burnt fuel disposal, high cost and public acceptance remain major issues to be solved. France, the world leader is planning to reduce nuclear from 80% to 50%

Sustainable/renewals such as Hydro, Wind, Solar, Geothermal, Waves etc will progressively take over and become major energy sources for future energy mix.

Eventually, the world will develop and mass produce more efficient machines, lights, processes etc to reduce 'per capita' energy consumption.

Bob Wallace

"When the bubble pops and gas gets back up to the $8/mmBTU needed to make it profitable on cash flow, we'll see how competitive the "renewables" remain. IOW, not very."

Current prices are $3.46/mmBtu

"Average on-peak, day-ahead wholesale electricity prices rose in every region of the Lower 48 states in first-half 2013 compared to first-half 2012. The most important factor was the rise in the price of natural gas (the marginal fuel for generation in much of the nation) in 2013 compared to 10-year lows in April 2012.


Trends in power prices in the rest of the nation were generally set by higher natural gas prices, which is the marginal fuel for electric generation in most regions. Spot natural gas prices at major hubs across the nation increased between 42% and 146% between the first half of 2012 and the first half of 2013."

$8/mmBTU would take the price of NG-electricity above the cost of non-subsidized wind-electricity and close to the lowest non-subsidized solar prices we're seeing.


EIA is likely close to being correct with their forecast.

The only way to avoid driving off a cliff (with the tank empty) is for everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, to stop driving gas guzzlers that get only 25mpg and switch to something that gets 50+ mpg at the very first opportunity.

That means a total ban on selling cars that get less than 50 mpg, starting in 2015.

Bob Wallace

Banning the sales of lower MPG cars starting in 2015 would be a good thing for the environment, but it isn't going to happen.

If the supply of oil tightens then the price will rise and people will move to more efficient ICEVs, EVs, PHEVs and public transportation.

I think this is another place where the EIA gets it wrong. Very wrong.

By 2030 we're almost certain to have superior capacity batteries at attractive prices. If not, then hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will probably be available.

At that point, if not sooner, the curve for liquid energy begins to flatten and starts dropping 10, 15, 20 years later.

I expect 2040 to be lower than 2030, not higher.



re nuclear, if energy demand does rise 56% by 2040, truly massive additions to base load power will be required.

I certainly sympathize with your sentiment, but in the real world sufficient wind and solar with the requisite consistency or storage is not in the realm of the possible. Nuclear is evolving, and the safety and expense of nuclear are far more tractable problems than the the damage from base load coal.

In practice, fighting nuclear is de facto demanding more coal. Many understandably want to make the case that's not true, but fairly straightforward analysis shows they are just making the case for how passionately they wish it were not true.

Roger Pham

Wind and solar energy can be used to make synthetic fuels, for example, H2 in combination with biomass to make synthetic gasoline or diesel fuels. This will eliminate the necessity of energys storage.

The potential of wind and solar energy is almost limitless, because solar alone can provide 100 folds energy requirement of the US, and wind can supply 40 x the energy required with a turbine on every farm.

Nuclear energy is great where the potential of solar and wind is poor.

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