Energy: supply and demand

Posted: 23 November 2007

Global energy use doubled between 1971 and 2005. Energy demand has risen at just over 2 per cent per year for the past 25 years (more than the rate of human population growth) and will continue to climb at the same rate over the next 15 years if current use patterns persist, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Energy supply graph
Energy supply graph
Source: IEA

  • Developing nations account for more than 80 per cent of world population, but consume only about one-third of the world’s energy.
  • World-wide, 2 billion people are without access to electricity or other modern energy supplies and continue to use traditional solid fuels for cooking.
  • Per capita consumption of primary energy in the United States (330 gigajoules) is eight times as high as in Sub-Saharan Africa (40 gigajoules when both commercial and traditional energy are included). Consumption in South Asia is even lower.
  • More energy will be needed to fuel global economic growth and deliver opportunities to the billions currently constrained in their opportunities for economic development and improved living standards.

    Energy outlook graph
    Energy outlook graph
    Total Primary Energy Supply outlook by fuel under two scenarios. Source: IEA
    According to World Energy Outlook 2007, published by the International Energy Agency, world energy consumption is likely to rise by over 50 per cent between 2005 and 2030 - if governments around the world stick with existing policies ('Reference Scenario' in the above diagram).

    China and India together account for 45% of the increase in global primary energy demand in this scenario. Both countries’ energy use is set to more than double between 2005 and 2030.

    Worldwide, fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal – continue to dominate the fuel mix. Among them, coal is set to grow most rapidly, driven largely by power-sector demand in China and India. These trends lead to continued growth in global energy-related emissions of carbon-dioxide (CO2), from 27 Gt in 2005 to 42 Gt in 2030 – a rise of 57%. China is expected to overtake the United States to become the world’s biggest emitter in 2007, while India becomes the third-biggest emitter by around 2015. China’s per-capita emissions almost reach those of OECD Europe by 2030.

  • Human health is threatened by high levels of pollution arising from energy use at the household, community and regional levels.
  • At present, fossil fuels account for some 80 per cent of the world’s primary energy consumption and 90 per cent of the world’s commercial energy.
  • Nuclear generation accounts for 6 per cent of energy and 16 per cent of electricity.
  • Large-scale hydropower supplies over 2 per cent of energy and 20 per cent of global electricity.
  • Renewable energy sources (including hydro) supply 14 per cent of the total world energy demand, but this is mainly traditional biomass used for cooking and heating in the developing world – often with high levels of household and local air pollution.
  • ‘New’ renewable energy sources – modern biomass, geothermal, wind, solar, marine and small-scale hydro – currently contribute some 2 per cent of world energy consumption. And although they are the fastest growing energy source, will probably still only provide 3 per cent of all energy by 2020.