Global electric power use to increase 56 percent by 2040

Renewable energy sources will be the fastest growing sources of electricity generation

Jul 25th, 2013

Worldwide energy use will climb about 56 percent by 2040, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's International Energy Outlook 2013. Electrification of the developing world and the growth of China will be the two largest contributors to this increase, according to the EIA report.

World net power generation is expected to increase by 93 percent by 2040, increasing from 20.2 trillion kWh in 2010 to 39 trillion kWh in 2040. Renewable energy sources will be the fastest growing sources of electricity generation, increasing by 2.8 percent per year from 2010 to 2040.

Natural gas and nuclear power are expected to be second-fastest growing sources of generation, increasing by 2.5 percent per year, according to Power Engineering.

“Natural gas continues to be the fuel of choice for the electric power and industrial sectors in many of the world’s regions, in part because of its lower carbon intensity compared with coal and oil, which makes it an attractive fuel source in countries where governments are implementing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the EIA.

Coal-fired power generation is expected to remain the largest source of world power generation through 2040 despite increasing by an annual average of 1.8 percent per year, although the EIA notes the outlook for coal could be changed considerably by any future national policies or international agreements aimed at reducing or limiting the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

The EIA projects total world coal consumption to rise at an average rate of 1.3 percent per year. The administration notes that China, the U.S. and India are expected to account for around 75 percent of global coal usage in 2040, an increase from the 70 percent the three countries use in 2010. China is expected to account for around 55 percent of global coal usage in 2040, while the U.S. is expected to use around 9.2 percent and India around 10.2 percent.

About 80 percent of the increase in renewable power generation is expected to come from hydropower and wind power. Of the 5.4 trillion kWh expected to be added by 2040, 52 percent is expected to come from hydropower and 28 percent is expected to come from wind power projects.

The IEO also looks at world carbon dioxide emissions, projecting that total emissions will increase from 31.2 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36.4 billion metric tons in 2020 and 45.5 billion metric tons in 2040 for a total increase of 46 percent. Coal is expected to account for 20.6 billion metric tons, or around 45.3 percent, of CO2 emissions in 2040, while natural gas is expected to account for 10.1 billion metric tons, or around 22.2 percent, and liquid fuels are expected to account for 14.7 billion metric tons, or around 32.3 percent.

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