Despite the worldwide effort to wean itself off of fossil fuels and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, a daunting challenge remains. Global demand for energy is on the rise.
At an annual growth rate of 1.6 percent, world energy consumption is projected to grow by 53 percent over the next quarter of a century. According to the International Energy Outlook 2011, published by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, world energy use is projected to rise from 505 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) to 770 quadrillion Btu from 2008 to 2035.
The report projects most of the growth to occur in countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an organization composed of mostly of European countries and the United States, that is dedicated to a shared vision of world economic growth policies. The implication of this potential pattern is that energy growth will occur in nations that are not responsive to policies designed to encourage a cleaner energy future.
Along those lines, the report projects China and India to drive most of the growth in world energy consumption. The two non-OECD nations are expected to more than double their combined energy demand by 2035, accounting for half of the world’s energy growth over the time frame. The report projects the two countries to consume 31 percent of the world’s energy in 2035, up from 21 percent in 2008.
China already surpassed the United States as the world’s largest energy consumer in 2009. Its energy consumption is projected to be 68 percent higher than the United States in 2035.
The findings are not necessarily good news for advocates of renewable power. According to the EIA, China, India and other Asian nations are bigger consumers of coal. For example, the report projects China to account for 76 percent of the projected net increase in world coal use, and India, along with other non-OECD Asian countries, will account for another 19 percent of the increase.
While the report projects renewable energy to be the fastest growing source of primary energy over the next 25 years, fossil fuels will remain the dominant source of energy.