EIA projects 50% rise in world energy use by 2050, led by AsiaDavid Wagman | September 24, 2019
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that world energy consumption will grow by nearly 50% between 2018 and 2050.
Most of the growth is expected to come from countries that are not in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and is focused in regions where strong economic growth is driving demand, particularly Asia.
EIA said that the industrial sector — which includes refining, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and construction — will likely account for more than half of end-use energy consumption through the projection period, the largest share of energy consumption of any end-use sector.
World industrial sector energy use is projected to rise by more than 30% between 2018 and 2050 as consumption of goods increases. By 2050, global industrial energy consumption is forecast to reach about 315 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), EIA said.
Transportation energy consumption is forecast to increase by nearly 40% between 2018 and 2050. This increase is largely driven by non-OECD countries, where transportation energy consumption is expected to rise nearly 80% between 2018 and 2050. Energy consumption for both personal travel and freight movement grows in these countries more rapidly than in many OECD countries.
Energy consumed in the buildings sector, which includes residential and commercial structures, is projected to grow by 65% between 2018 and 2050, from 91 quadrillion to 139 quadrillion Btu. Rising income, urbanization and increased access to electricity will lead to rising demand for energy, EIA said.
The growth in end-use consumption results in electricity generation increasing 79% between 2018 and 2050, the EIA forecast said. Electricity use is expected to grow in the residential sector as rising population and standards of living in non-OECD countries increase the demand for appliances and personal equipment. Electricity use also rises in the transportation sector as plug-in electric vehicles enter the fleet and electricity use for rail expands.
With the growth of electricity generation, renewable energy resources — including solar, wind and hydroelectric power — are expected to be the fastest-growing energy source between 2018 and 2050, surpassing petroleum and other liquids to become the most used energy source. Worldwide renewable energy consumption is expected to rise by 3.1% per year between 2018 and 2050. That compares with 0.6% annual growth in petroleum and other liquids, 0.4% growth in coal, and 1.1% annual growth in natural gas consumption.
Global natural gas consumption increases more than 40% between 2018 and 2050, and total consumption reaches nearly 200 quadrillion Btu by 2050. In addition to the natural gas used in electricity generation, natural gas consumption increases in the industrial sector. Chemical and primary metals manufacturing, as well as oil and natural gas extraction, account for most of the growing industrial demand.
U.S. potential gas resources
In mid-September, the Potential Gas Committee said that the U.S. possesses a total mean technically recoverable resource base of 3,374 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) as of year-end 2018. This is the highest resource evaluation in the committee’s 54-year history. It exceeds the previous high assessment (from year-end 2016) by 557 Tcf (an increase of about 20%).
This marked the largest two-year increase in absolute resources between evaluations in the Committee's history. The increase resulted from reassessments of shale gas resources in the Atlantic and Mid-Continent areas and conventional and tight gas in the Mid-Continent and Rocky Mountain areas.
The assessment includes 3,218 Tcf of gas potentially recoverable from “traditional” reservoirs (conventional, tight sands, carbonates and shales) and 157 Tcf in coalbed gas reservoirs.
In its forecast to 2050, EIA said that global liquid fuels consumption is expected to increase more than 20% between 2018 and 2050, and total consumption reaches more than 240 quadrillion Btu in 2050. Demand in OECD countries remains relatively stable during the projection period, but non-OECD demand increases by about 45%.