The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s summary of its International Energy Outlook 2013 report would be an excellent student reading for an energy or climate course. The report’s summary page also includes many other excellent resources for use in the classroom, including detailed data tables and a 33-slide Power Point summary.
Among the key conclusions of the report:
- World energy consumption grows by 56% between 2010-2040, with a 90% jump in use by non-OECD States;
- Fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80% of world energy needs through 2040, dropping from 84% of the energy mix in 2010 to 78%:
- Global use of petroleum and other liquid fuels increases from 87 MBD in 2010 to 97 MBD in 2040, driven by growth in demand in the transportation and industry sectors, with the former accounting for 63% of this growth;
- World natural gas consumption increases by 64% in the Reference case, driven by several desirable characteristics, including lower carbon intensity than oil and coal, relatively low capital costs and favorable heat rates;
- Global coal consumption is projected to raise at an average rate of 1.3% annually from 2010-2040, with three countries (China, U.S. and India) accounting for 75% of consumption in 2040. However, environmental considerations and declining costs of natural gas is projected to reduce coal’s share of the global energy mix, including from 40% in 2010 to 36% in 2040.
- Renewable energy sources and nuclear will post the fastest growth of world energy sources, increasing at 2.5% annual rate through 2040. Yet, to put this in discouraging perspective, in the Reference case scenario, renewables share of total energy use only rises from 11 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2040, with nuclear energy’s share growing from 5 percent to 7 percent;
- Almost 80% of the projected increase in renewable electricity generation will come from hydropower (52% of total) and wind;
- Perhaps the most discouraging conclusion of the report is that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase from 31.2 billion metric tons in 2010 to 45.5 billion in 2040, a burgeoning 46%.
- Non-OECD emissions are expected to exceed those of the OECD by a whopping 127% in 2040;
- The largest share of carbon dioxide emissions during this period are from coal;
- Carbon intensity of output is projected to decline by 1.9% annually in OECD countries and 2.7% annually in non-OECD countries.
This reading could also stimulate some good discussion of what would need to be done to substantially deviate from the “Reference case,” both from a technical and political perspective. It might be coupled with pieces that project potentially far higher market penetration of renewable sources by the middle of the century. This could facilitate discussion of the importance of different methodological approaches, as well as the intrinsically difficult task of projecting energy and climate data so far into the future.