October 09, 2021

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released its International Energy Outlook for 2021
Energy Outlook highlights:
• If current policy and technology trends continue, global energy consumption and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will increase through 2050 as a result of population and economic growth.
• Renewables will be the primary source for new electricity generation, but natural gas, coal, and increasingly batteries will be used to help meet load and support grid reliability.
• Oil and natural gas production will continue to grow, mainly to support increasing energy consumption in developing Asian economies.
After a period of decline in coal consumption through 2030, consumption of all major fuels grows from 2030 to 2050. Renewable energy consumption more than doubles between 2020 and 2050, and renewable energy consumption nearly equals liquid fuels consumption by 2050. The rise of renewables, which account for 27% of global energy consumption in 2050, results from falling technology costs and changing government policies, which in turn contribute to the electric power sector using renewable energy sources to meet growing electricity demand.
Coal’s share of global energy use steadily declines through 2050. Coal consumption declines in absolute terms through 2030, in part as a result of low near-term natural gas prices. Policies, such as emissions trading programs in the European Union and South Korea, and slowing investment in coal power plants also play a role in the near-term decline of coal. However, countervailing pressures keep coal in the energy mix through 2050, including the expansion of coal-reliant heavy industry in India, the availability and security of local coal supply in some regions, and the projected growth of coal-fired generating plants in non-OECD Asia to fuel the region’s growing economies.
Although natural gas consumption grows by 31% through the projection, renewables’ share of energy consumption, which grows from 15% in 2020 to 27% in 2050, limits the share of global energy use fueled by natural gas, which decreases slightly from 24% to 22% over the same period. Lower relative prices of natural gas in the near term as well as the need to provide back-up supply to intermittent renewables are important drivers in natural gas consumption.
The EIA projects growth in liquid fuels consumption to continue at a near constant pace through 2050. As travel increases as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lessen, the majority of passenger and freight vehicles continue to be fueled by liquid fuel-consuming internal combustion engines (ICEs). Industrial use of petroleum and other liquids, particularly for chemical feedstocks, also increases through the projection period.
Despite efficiency gains, worldwide end-use sectors increase energy consumption through 2050. We project demand for electricity to increase across all sectors, outpacing global population growth.
In homes, electricity use grows faster than any other energy sources, accounting for half of all household energy use by 2050. Electricity use in commercial buildings also grows. The agency projects over 60% of commercial energy needs will be met by electricity in 2050. As household incomes and the service sector grow, standards of living increase and space-cooling technologies (for example, air conditioners) become more prevalent in buildings. As a result, the use of electricity in buildings grows quickly from a relatively large base in 2020, but it grows fastest in the transportation sector.
Petroleum liquids, such as motor gasoline, distillate, and jet fuel, continue to grow and to fulfill most demand for transportation energy over the next 30 years, as the world’s population grows and passenger and freight travel expand. Electricity use, however, starting from a relatively small base, grows almost six times faster than petroleum use over the same period.
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which include both battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, are the fastest-growing light-duty passenger fleet across OECD and non-OECD countries alike. 138 internal combustion engine, or conventional, light-duty vehicles (LDVs) are on the road in 2020 for every PEV. By 2050, PEVs make up almost a third of the global light-duty stock. Electricity use grows to account for 5% of global transportation energy consumption by 2050.
Rapid economic growth in non-OECD countries translates into more energy consumption. Although the Americas retain the largest share of OECD energy use, Asia consumes more than double the amount of energy than all the remaining non-OECD regions combined by 2050.
(Source: EIA – Refinery at Singapore’s Jurong Island/Rene B/energy global news)