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An energetic future

Sujay Mehdudia
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By 2030, the maximum growth in energy demand will be from emerging economies, says a recent survey

Oil:Slowest growth expected.Photo: Paul Noronha
Oil:Slowest growth expected.Photo: Paul Noronha

With continuing steep economic growth, major emerging economies such as China and India are likely to become increasingly reliant on energy imports. Such shifts will have a major impact on trade balances, says the latest Energy Outlook Survey 2030 released by BP.

The Outlook’s overall expectation for growth in global energy demand by 2030 is little changed from last year, with demand expected to be 36 per cent higher in 2030 than 2011 and almost all the growth coming from emerging economies.

However, expectations of the pattern of supply of this growth are shifting strongly, with unconventional sources — shale gas and tight oil together with heavy oil and bio-fuels — playing an increasingly important role. Growing production from unconventional sources is expected to provide all of the net growth in global oil supply till 2020, and over 70 per cent of growth by 2030.

BP Group Chief Executive Bob Dudley said fears over oil running out – to which BP has never subscribed – appear increasingly groundless. “The US will not be increasingly dependent on energy imports, with energy set to reinvigorate its economy. And China and India are expected to need a lot more imports to keep growing,’’ he added.

The Outlook shows global energy demand continuing to increase at an average of 1.6 per cent a year to 2030. Growth is expected to moderate, climbing at an average of 2 per cent a year to 2020 and then by only 1.3 per cent a year to 2030. Around 93 per cent of this growth will come from non-OECD economies, with China and India accounting for over half the increase. By 2030, energy use in the non-OECD economies is expected to be 61 per cent higher than in 2011 whereas use in the OECD will have grown by only 6 per cent, and actually to have fallen in per capita terms.

While the fuel mix is evolving, fossil fuels will continue to be dominant. Oil, gas and coal are expected to converge on market shares of around 26-28 per cent each by 2030, and non-fossil fuels – nuclear, hydro and renewables – on a share of around 6-7 per cent each. Oil is expected to be the slowest growing of the major fuels to 2030, with demand growing at an average of just 0.8 per cent a year. Similarly, natural gas is expected to be the fastest growing of the fossil fuels – with demand rising at an average of 2 per cent a year.

After oil, coal is expected to be the slowest growing major fuel, with demand rising on average 1.2 per cent a year to 2030. Over the period, growth flattens to just 0.5 per cent a year after 2020. Nearly all (93 per cent) of the net growth in demand to 2030 will come from just China and India, whose combined share of global coal consumption will rise from 57 per cent in 2011 to 65 per cent in 2030. India is expected to overtake US as second largest coal consumer in 2024.

The survey states that despite the setback of the Fukushima disaster, nuclear energy output is expected to rise robustly to 2030 at around 2.6 per cent a year – compared to average growth of 1.6 per cent from 1990 to 2010. China, India and Russia will together account for 88 per cent of the global growth in nuclear power.


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