12 December 2011

ExxonMobil released “The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040”, extending its annual long-term energy forecast to 2040 for the first time. The Outlook projects that global energy demand in 2040 will be about 30% higher than it was in 2010, led by growth in developing regions such as China, India, Africa and other emerging economies.

While oil will remain the most widely used fuel, overall energy demand will be reshaped by a continued shift toward natural gas and less carbon intensive energy sources, as well as improvements in energy efficiency in transportation, where the expanded use of hybrid vehicles will help push average new car fuel economy to nearly 50 mpg by 2040.

Rising demand for electricity is identified as the single largest influence on energy trends. Transportation is the second-fastest growing demand sector, behind electricity generation.

ExxonMobil projects that global electricity demand will rise by 80% through 2040 as economies and living standards improve, and consumers switch to electricity from other sources such as oil, coal or biomass. By 2040, four out of every 10 units of energy produced in the world will be going toward the production of electricity. The mix of fuels used to produce electricity will change, however, as nations shift away from coal in favor of natural gas. By 2040, 30% of the world's electricity will be produced using natural gas, while demand for coal will peak and experience its first long-term decline in modern history.

In transportation, ExxonMobil sees advanced hybrid vehicles accounting for 50% of the cars on the road in 2040, compared to about 1% today. This, plus improved fuel economy in conventional vehicles, will cause demand for energy for personal vehicles to remain essentially flat through 2040 even as the number of personal vehicles in the world doubles. However, demand for energy for commercial transportation—trucks, airplanes, ships and trains—will rise by more than 70%, driven by economic growth, particularly in non-OECD nations.

Demand for oil and other liquid fuels will rise by nearly 30%, and most of that increase will be linked to transportation. A growing share of the supplies used to meet liquid-fuel demand will come from deepwater, oil sands, tight oil, natural gas liquids and biofuels.

Some of the other findings and predictions are:

  • Energy demand in the United States and other fully developed economies will remain relatively constant. Global growth in energy demand will be led by China and other non-OECD countries. Non-OECD energy demand is projected to rise by nearly 60% from 2010 to 2040.
  • While global energy demand is expected to rise by about 30% from 2010 to 2040, demand growth would be approximately four times that amount without projected gains in efficiency. Efficiency is the key reason why energy demand will rise by only about 1% a year on average even as global GDP rises by nearly 3% a year. It also is the reason why OECD energy demand will remain relatively unchanged through 2040 even as its economic output nearly doubles.
  • Natural gas will continue to be the fastest-growing major fuel, and demand will increase by about 60% from 2010 to 2040. Growth is particularly strong in the non-OECD countries in the Asia Pacific region, where demand for natural gas is expected to triple over the next 30 years.
  • The growth of natural gas is in part driven by new technologies that are expanding global energy supplies, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques. ExxonMobil estimates that natural gas from shale and similar sources will account for 30% of global gas production by 2040.
  • While growth in nuclear capacity is expected to slow in the near-term, demand for nuclear power is projected to nearly double by 2040 as nations seek to lower emissions and diversify energy sources.
  • Renewable fuels will see strong growth. By 2040, more than 15% of the world's electricity will be generated by renewable fuels—solar, wind, biofuels, biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric power. The fastest-growing of these will be wind, which will increase by about 8% per year from 2010 to 2040.

Source: ExxonMobil