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IEA Releases World Energy Outlook 2010

November 2, 2010

 Last week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released their World Energy Outlook 2010 report.

The IEA is an intergovernmental agency based in Paris that acts as an energy advisor to 28 member countries, including the US, which focuses on energy security, economic development, and environmental protection.  Founded during the oil crisis of 73-74, they release an annual energy outlook each year that includes analysis on pressing energy questions of the day.  Last year’s report was focused on ramifications of the economic crisis, whereas this year’s report is more forward focused and includes projections of world energy generation and use to 2035.  The executive summary of the report can be found here.

There’s lots of good information for the advanced energy community in this report, I’ll outline a few of the passages I found most interesting and would appreciate hearing what catches other folks’ interest.

 Although the observation that rapidly growing non-OECD economies like China and India will drive the energy landscape for the next 25 years may come as no surprise, putting numbers to what that future may look like is one of the most useful outcomes of this report.  Under the New Policies scenario non-OECD countries are projected to account for 93% of the increase in primary energy demand.  China accounts for 36% of the demand growth with its consumption increasing 75% to 22% of world energy production up from 17% today.  India is the second largest contributor to future demand and accounts for 18% of the projected growth.  Although energy demand rises very slowly in OECD countries, in 2035 the US remains the second largest consumer of energy behind China and far ahead of India.  

Projected growth in China is identified as the key driver in the projected scenarios.  Energy consumption in China has accelerated at such an incredible pace that projections are highly sensitive to underlying assumptions about its future economic growth.  For reference, in 2000 China used about half the energy of the US and surpassed it in 2009.  That increase represented more than four times the growth in the previous decade.  Furthermore, China’s per capita energy consumption is only one-third of OECD countries and has plenty of room to grow further. 

Another key area of interest in the report is the projections for electricity generation and usage.  Electricity demand is projected to grow more strongly than any other final form of energy, 2.2% per year with more than 80% of the growth in non-OECD countries.  China is projected to add generating capability equal to the total capability of the US.  Globally, generating capacity additions to meet demand growth and replace aging infrastructure add up to 5,900 GW or 25% more than current installed capacity.  Fossil fuels remain the dominant fuel source but their share of total generation drops from 68% in 2008 to 55% in 2035.  However, a shift is occurring toward low-carbon generating technologies with nuclear power increasing its share of primary energy demand from 6% in 2008 to 8% in 2035 and renewables increasing from 7% to 14% over the same period.  In terms of generating electricity, the overall carbon intensity is projected to decline by one third due to this shift toward nuclear, renewables, and other low-carbon technologies.  

Posted by Edward D. Herderick, Ph.D.