BP: Renewables growth to outstrip fossil fuels

BP has confirmed renewables will remain the fastest growth sector in the global energy market over the next two decades. However, it has also warned that, without major technological breakthroughs, the rollout of green technologies will fail to deliver net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The company’s annual Energy Outlook report, released yesterday, predicts that the global switch in favour of renewable energy means that the sector, including biofuels, will grow at an average of eight per cent a year through to 2030. It will far outpace natural gas, the fastest growing fossil fuel, which is expected to expand at two per cent a year.

But the report also predicts that, with global energy demand likely to grow 39 per cent over the period, the renewables sector will still only account for about 19 per cent of global energy output by 2030, with fossil fuels accounting for the remaining 81 per cent.

As a result, the report claims that global CO2 emissions will likely rise by 28 per cent over the next two decades, although it acknowledges that “if more aggressive policies than currently envisioned are introduced, global CO2 emissions could begin to decline by 2030”.

“This report is by turns challenging, fascinating and stimulating for anyone in the energy business. It helps us to be both realistic and optimistic,” said BP chief executive Bob Dudley in a statement. “It shows there are things we can’t change, like the underlying drivers of energy demand, and things we can change, like the way we satisfy that demand.

“The main message is that we need to have an open, competitive energy sector, which encourages innovation and thereby maximises efficiency in order to enjoy energy that is sufficient, secure and sustainable into the future.”

The report also predicts that Europe, India and China will see significant increases in energy insecurity as they become increasingly reliant on imported oil, coal and gas, unless there is a dramatic shift towards renewable energy.

It says that Europe’s energy deficit will increase by two-thirds for natural gas, while China’s energy deficit for all fuels will increase five-fold and India’s will more than double.

In contrast, breakthroughs in alternative fuels from shale gas and tar sands mean that the US could establish itself as a net exporter of energy by 2030.

The report also envisages further success for green car manufacturers, predicting that transportation will prove the slowest growth sector for global energy demand as “significant improvements in fuel efficiency, including hybridisation of vehicles, will partly offset continued strong growth in vehicle sales in emerging markets”.

Advances in biofuels and electric cars also mean BP is predicting that oil will account for 87 per cent of transport sector energy use by 2030, down from 95 per cent currently.

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