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Top ten takeaways: The world energy outlook

Alternative Energy

We recently attended Fatih Birol’s presentation in advance of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) first publication of the Global Energy and CO₂ Status Report. Their flagship publication, World Energy Outlook, was published in November 2017.

As the IEA’s director and a leading energy expert Birol’s talk was illuminating, particularly as the international energy landscape is becoming an increasingly critical issue for us all. It seems we don’t just need more energy to power a growing world population, but we also need considerably more power behind the movement for energy reform and to meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Here are our top 10 takeaways ON THE OUTLOOK FOR WORLD ENERGY

1. We’re going to need a lot more energy

On our current path we will need 30% more energy by 2040 to meet demand. One third of this will come from India and the IEA estimate that they will add the equivalent of the EU to their electricity generation by then. China will add the equivalent of the US!

2. Renewables are booming

Renewables saw the highest growth rate of any energy source in 2017 and renewable technologies in general are getting cheaper, with solar currently being the cheapest. Another significant cost reduction is anticipated as China continues in leaps and bounds with renewable energy generation. 6 out of 10 solar PV (photovoltaics) cells are produced in China at present. However, challenges such as renewables’ intermittency still need to be tackled.

3. The global energy landscape is shifting

China is developing an energy strategy that includes ambitious and large-scale renewable solutions. Russia remains the most important player in the gas market, but the role of the US, Canada and Australia is gathering pace as the demand for export to Asia is growing. Trade is shifting from the pipelines of Russia towards LNG (liquid nitrogen gas) being shipped. In terms of nuclear power, the US and to a certain extent France’s, nuclear fleet is ageing and there is little appetite to build new or extend the lifetime of existing operating plants. China is set to overtake the US as a global leader in the area of nuclear technology exports.

4.  Access to electricity is improving

To ensure affordable, reliable and modern energy for all is one of the Sustainable Development Goals but sub-Saharan Africa still lags behind and efforts should be redoubled, especially considering the high solar and hydro-power potential.

5. The IEA is using a new Sustainable Development Scenario

This new scenario for determining the world energy outlook ‘provides a benchmark for measuring progress towards a more broadly sustainable energy future’ by integrating the three Sustainable Development Goals that are most closely related to energy. It is vital to do this as energy is linked to human health impacts due to emissions, inequalities due to energy access according to wealth and gender, poverty alleviation and even education.

6. It’s increasingly important to stay chilled

Cooling is set to be one of the major drivers of future electricity demand, only out done by industrial growth, but more than the growing demand for electric vehicles. In the wake of global warming, population rise and increased standards of living, the requirement of energy intensive air-conditioning will increase hugely.

7. Storage is crucial

Especially to facilitate increasing uptake of renewables. However, even though costs are going down, there is still no major market penetration and considerably more capacity for energy storage is required.

8. We need to focus on buildings

Energy efficiency needs to focus on buildings due to the long-term lock-in effect of infrastructure. Improvements have been made in the global buildings sector thanks to continued adoption and enforcement of building energy codes and efficiency standards. Yet progress has not been fast enough to offset growth and increasing demand for energy from buildings.

9. Despite progress, fossil fuels are stubborn

In the 1980s at the time of the Brundtland report and before climate change was close to the forefront of public consciousness, 83% of the world’s energy was generated using fossil fuels. Despite the changing landscape, in 2017 fossil fuels still accounted for 81% of energy supply.

10. We’re going to need even more energy to meet the Paris Agreement


Current trends are not enough. Despite a shifting landscape, oil demand is still set to grow. Energy demand grew by 2.1% in 2017 and fossil fuels met over 70% of this growth. With growth in shipping, trucking and aviation, demand is projected to rise to 105 million barrels a day. We need 580 million more electric vehicles, double efficiency and triple the installed capacity of solar panels to stay below the two degree threshold of temperature increase. International government policies need to play a vital part in powering the changes required to meet our collective target.


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20 Comments on "Top ten takeaways: The world energy outlook"

  1. Jef on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 8:36 am 

    We could double or even triple CAFE standards and have 50 mpg vehicles on the road tomorrow cutting demand in half. The infrastructure is already in place.

    With the storage touted by all the “renewable” energy claims being put into place right now for existing electricity production we could cut electricity demand in half tomorrow or increase availability.

    Why is none of this happening yet we always hear that it absolutely will …in the future?

  2. rockman on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 8:59 am 

    “On our current path we will need 30% more energy by 2040 to meet demand.” And again another misleading/ignorant statement that allowed me to ignore the rest of the article. Same question again and again: what is the definition of “demand”? Is it A) what consumers can afford to buy or B) what they want to buy?

    If it’s (A) then current demand = current consumption. Which means that in 2040 demand will be equal to production regardless of that global rate or the price of oil. IOW every bbl being produced will be bought by those consumers that can afford the price at that time. IOW demand = production. And will be true whether 90 MM bopd is being produced or 60 MM bopd. And whether oil is selling for $147/bbl of $35/bbl.

    IF it’s (B) then there will be insufficient production to meet demand. Just as it has always been the case: since crude oil was first sold over 100 years there have been consumers unable to afford the then current price of oil. True whether oil was selling for $147/bbl or $25/bbl.

    One can predict the global oil production rate and price in 2040 how ever they want. But the world will be produce exactly what the demand is for energy is at that time. IOW (A) Or it won’t just as it never has. IOW (B).

  3. rockman on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 9:11 am 

    Jef – You make a valid point. But if you allow I’ll make a small correction: We could double or even triple CAFE standards and have 50 mpg vehicles on the road tomorrow cutting consumption (not demand) in half.

    But one small problem with that expectation: if the number of ICE’s being added to the current rolling fleet continues at the current rate the total consumption of motor may not decrease by such a significant amount. OTOH is fuel prices double or triple and sustain at that level consumption could decline significantly even without changing CAFE.

    And that could happen even with out a big increase in oil prices: just significantly raise the motor fuel tax. As should have been started 40+ years ago.

  4. Cloggie on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 12:29 pm 

    Hit ’em where it hurts most: in the wallet:

    “Friends of the Earth Netherlands” threaten legal actions against Royal Dutch Shell if they don’t take drastic steps towards a more sustainable energy future.

    Governments love to outsource measures to the judiciary after they implemented the laws first.


  5. Cloggie on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 12:32 pm 

    In Norway 37% new cars bought in March were e-vehicles:

    By 2025 this percentage should be 100% by law.

    One country as a showcase to the rest of the world that it can work.

  6. Cloggie on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 12:35 pm 

    Antwerp/Belgium based “Scaldis Salvage & Marine Contractors” has a 2 x 2000 ton jack-up vessel, for dual mode:

    1. removing old oil age maritime junk
    2. installing offshore wind parks

  7. energy investor on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 5:24 pm 

    My main takeaways were….

    1. The IEA is subordinate to the IPCC, which in turn is subordinate to world Socialism.
    2. “liquid nitrogen gas”…lol
    3. The OECD will destroy their economies to comply with the Paris accords.
    4. India, China, Russia and emerging economies will ensure CO2 rises out to 2040.
    5. And finally, we are led by idiots driven by undeclared socialist agendas…

  8. twocats on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 7:17 pm 

    hahahaha!!! energy investor, oh man, you’re really funny – good one. keep em coming.

  9. Sissyfuss on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 10:24 pm 

    As the shark of overpopulation circles nearer and nearer we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

  10. GregT on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 10:27 pm 

    “As the shark of overpopulation circles nearer and nearer we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

    Unfortunately, we’ll only ever have one boat, and that boat is sinking.

  11. Sissyfuss on Thu, 5th Apr 2018 10:31 pm 

    And forget about improving CAFE standards, Jef. Trumps henchman Pruitt has begun the process of rolling back Obamas 50 mpg edict. Man the Torinos, full speed ahead, BTW, Torino is a Boomer exclusive reference.

  12. Cloggie on Fri, 6th Apr 2018 12:32 am 

    Unfortunately, we’ll only ever have one boat, and that boat is sinking.

    Did the Houston Rockets lose yesterday?

  13. GregT on Fri, 6th Apr 2018 12:42 am 

    “Did the Houston Rockets lose yesterday?”

    That boat has more than likely always been partially submerged.

  14. Davy on Fri, 6th Apr 2018 6:50 am 

    Neder, you guys ready for this, hint you might need a boat?

    “Rapid Sea Level Rise Possible as Ocean Floods into Antarctica at up to 400 Meters Per Year”

    “From west to east and in a growing number of places, a warming ocean is cutting its way deep into Antarctica. Grounding lines — the bases upon which mile-high glaciers come to rest as they meet the water — are in rapid retreat. And this ocean, heated by human fossil fuel burning, is beginning to flood chasms that tunnel for hundreds of miles beneath great mountains of ice. Such an immense flood has the effect of speeding up glaciers as far away as 500 miles from the point of invasion. It does this by generating a kind of abyssal pit that the glacier more swiftly falls into. And as these watery pits widen, they risk pumping sea level rise to catastrophic levels of ten feet or more by the end of this Century.”

  15. PeterEV on Fri, 6th Apr 2018 9:06 am 

    Jef (and others),

    There is a lot happening behind the scenes. One of our state’s representatives was meeting with Duke Energy and others to discuss energy issues. I only found out about it through an indirect way where some reps were addressing us about how they were going to address various social security type issues. I brought up the peaking of world oil production in context of those issues and that’s when I found out about the energy meeting. I have to make the effort to find out if they want to make the outcome public and what the outcome was. Some things are sensitive technically and also politically.

    The stuff is out there. You have to aggressively search for it.

  16. Boat on Fri, 6th Apr 2018 9:31 am 

    Clog, greggiet,

    The rockets are 54-15 with 3 games left before the playoffs. They have the best record in the NBA by a wide margin. It takes emotional ballast to keep the boat from riding to high. Can Houston win the world series and the NBA title. The odds makers say yes.

  17. BobInget on Fri, 6th Apr 2018 11:34 am 

    “Rapid” is a term of art.
    For instance, ‘rapid’ compared to what?
    Human or Redwood lifespans?

  18. Cloggie on Sat, 7th Apr 2018 3:09 am 

    Former Opel-CEO: “We have too many SUVs”

    Is thinking aloud about car-free cities.

    Regrets he didn’t push for more e-mobility.

  19. Dredd on Sat, 7th Apr 2018 8:41 am 

    Carbon Boy forgot to put as number one that suicidal maniacs in Oil-Qaeda need to burn more oil to destroy civilization.

    The cold hard facts say so (Watching The Arctic Die – 4).

  20. Dredd on Sat, 7th Apr 2018 8:48 am 

    In 460 BC Hippocrates identified … ‘consumption‘ as the most widespread disease of his day and observed that it was almost always fatal.” (Definition of Consumption – MedicineNet)

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