If current policy and technology trends continue, global energy consumption will grow by nearly 50% between 2020 and 2050, according to International Energy Outlook 2021 published by Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.
The agency projected that strong economic growth, particularly with developing economies in Asia, will drive global increases in energy consumption despite pandemic-related declines and long-term improvements in energy efficiency.
According to the EIA’s reference case, which projects future energy trends based on current laws and regulations, renewable energy consumption has the strongest growth among energy sources through 2050. Liquid fuels remain the largest source of energy consumption, driven largely by the industrial and transportation sectors.
“Even with growth in renewable energy, without significant policy changes or technological breakthroughs, we project increasing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions through 2050,” EIA Acting Administrator Stephen Nalley was quoted as saying in the report.
The agency projected that electricity generation will almost double in developing non-OECD countries by 2050.
Although natural gas, coal, and batteries will remain critical parts of the electric grid, backing up solar and wind resources, much of the new electricity generation will come from renewable energy sources in line with falling technology costs and favorable laws and regulations.
“The worldwide push to generate more electricity from renewables and also increase electric grid reliability could push more expansion of battery storage on a global scale,” Nalley said.
Driven by increasing populations and fast-growing economies, EIA estimated that consumption of liquid fuels will grow the most in non-OECD Asia, where total energy consumption nearly doubles from 2020 to 2050.
Consumption will outpace production in these countries, driving an increase in imports of crude oil or finished petroleum products, EIA said and added that the production will primarily be from the Middle East.
“The fast-growing economies in Asia could combine to become the largest importer of natural gas and crude oil by 2050, given their significant increase in energy consumption,” Nalley said.
By Sibel Morrow