The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report September 19, 2011, which projects that world energy use will increase 53 percent from 2008 to 2035. The report, International Energy Outlook 2011, says China and India will account for half of the projected increase.
EIA’s accompanying press release explains:
The economies of China and India were among those least affected by the worldwide recession. They continue to lead world economic growth and energy demand growth … In 2008, China and India combined accounted for 21 percent of total world energy consumption. With strong economic growth in both countries over the projection period, their combined energy use more than doubles by 2035, when they account for 31 percent of world energy use.
The statistics and projections the EIA presents in its new report are based on a wide range of global energy and financial data. Using it, the EIA made a host of other energy-related projections from 2008 through 2035.
For starters: the EIA expects fossil fuels to account for 78 percent of world energy use by the time we hit 2035.
Natural gas has the fastest growth rate among the fossil fuels over the 2008 to 2035 projection period, the EIA says. Petroleum and other liquid fuels will remain the largest global energy source with an increase of 26.9 million barrels per day. (Though, owing to projected higher oil prices, the EIA does see a dip occurring in petroleum’s share of total energy use). The role of coal is expected to remain important. The EIA projects that global coal consumption will increase from 139 quadrillion Btu in 2008 to 209 quadrillion Btu in 2035. China will use a large chunk of that. As acting EIA Administrator Howard Gruenspecht highlights in his agency’s press release:
China alone, which only recently became the world’s top energy consumer, is projected to use 68 percent more energy than the United States by 2035.
In the absence of policies that limit coal use, China uses coal instead of more expensive fuels. According to the EIA report:
China … accounts for 76 percent of the projected net increase in world coal use, and India and the rest of non-OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] Asia account for another 19 percent of the increase.
All this being the case, the news for treehuggers is mixed – renewable sources of energy like wind and solar aren’t ramping up at an extraordinary pace, but they play a significant role. Says the EIA:
Renewable energy is projected to be the fastest growing source of primary energy over the next 25 years, but fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy. Renewable energy consumption increases by 2.8 percent per year and the renewable share of total energy use increases from 10 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2035 in the [EIA scenario].
On the other hand, the EIA reports that renewable energy use is heavily influenced by policy changes, which are not accounted for in the agency’s report.
The report also states that carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming, will continue to rise.
Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from 30.2 billion metric tons in 2008 to 43.2 billion metric tons in 2035 – an increase of 43 percent. Much of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions is projected to occur among the developing nations of the world, especially in Asia.
You can view the report in its entirety here.
Bottom line: The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report on September 19, 2011. The report made a host of projections, including one that projects world energy use to increase 53 percent by 2035.
Beth Lebwohl researches, writes and helps produce science content in audio and video formats for EarthSky. She is one of the authors on EarthSky.org, a script-writer for our podcasts, and helps host our English science podcasts in 90-second, 8-minute and 22-minute formats. Beth came to EarthSky in 2006 from the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, where she was surrounded by some of the greatest telescope-building, equation-wielding, code-writing physicists of our time. And they made her think . . . this science thing . . . it's pretty cool.