World Energy Outlook - 2008

GLOBE-Net - The world’s craving for energy will grow 45 percent by 2030 with coal accounting for more than a third of the overall rise, according to the latest edition of the annual World Energy Outlook published  by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

But current trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable - environmentally, economically and socially - they can and must be altered, said Nobuo Tanaka Executive Director of the IEA.

“Rising imports of oil and gas into OECD regions and developing Asia, together with the growing concentration of production in a small number of countries, would increase our susceptibility to supply disruptions and sharp price hikes,” he said at the launch of the new report in London.

The World Energy Outlook 2008 says China and India account for over half of this increase and the Middle East for 11 percent because of their continuing strong economic growth forecast to last through the next two decades. 

Experts at the Paris-based organization think that non-hydro renewable energy sources - wind, solar, geothermal, tide and wave energy - will grow faster than any other source. They predict that renewable technologies will overtake gas to become the second-largest source of electricity in the world, behind coal, soon after 2010.

Demand for oil, on the other hand, will keep growing from 85 million barrels per day currently to 106 million barrels by 2030.  Most of the increase in oil supply will come from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), whose share is projected to rise from 44 percent in 2007 to 51 percent in 2030.  “Non-OPEC conventional oil production is already at plateau and is projected to start to decline by around the middle of the next decade,” says the report.

Renewable energy technologies will overtake gas to become the second-largest source of electricity in the world, behind coal, after 2010

The increase in oil production hinges on adequate and timely investments.  The fear is that oil companies, affected by the credit crunch, will be unable to invest in new projects which would mean less available oil at affordable prices in the years to come.  The agency says energy firms need to invest more than $26 trillion by 2030 - nearly $1 trillion a year - to meet world demand without triggering an economic slowdown.

But that might prove difficult. Two companies, ConocoPhillips and Saudi Aramco, have already postponed construction of a multibillion-dollar refinery in Saudi Arabia because of uncertain market conditions, according to the Associated Press.  Marathon Oil has also delayed the expansion of a refinery in Detroit.

 “It is not an exaggeration to claim that the future of human prosperity depends on how successfully we tackle the two central energy challenges facing us today:  securing the supply of a reliable and affordable energy; and effecting a rapid transformation to a low-carbon, efficient and environmentally benign system of energy supply.  What is needed is nothing short of an energy revolution,” says the report.

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