Energy use and carbon dioxide emissions
World energy consumption fell by 0.1 % in 1998, the first decline since 1982. Gas, nuclear and hydro consumption all rose more than 1 %, but this was insufficient to offset the lack of growth in oil and decline in coal consumption. Indeed, economic growth and energy use are closely tied and the Asian economic crisis proved to be deeper and more persistent that originally anticipated, moreover the long decline in the Former Soviet Union continued. Despite the fall in total world energy consumption, two-thirds of the featured countries enjoyed positive growth.
The expected energy consumption worldwide in 2020 is projected to increase by 65 % relative to the 1996 level. More than half the increment is expected in the developing countries, where strong economic growth in the long term is expected to increase the demand for energy. The share of the OECD consumption, which represents 58 % of the total in 1996, decreases and in the end of the projection period, energy use in developing countries is expected to exceed that in the industrialized world.
The 20 biggest energy consumers countries in the world represent 87 % of the total consumption, and the sum of the consumption of the five biggest consumers accounts for more than 50 % of the total. These countries are the United States, China, Russia, Japan and Germany.
Every energy source, except nuclear power, is projected to grow over the 1996 to 2020 forecast period, although renewable energy sources are not expected to grow as fast over the next 24 years as they have in the past. The predominant issue for the development of energy markets in the industrialized countries appears to be the potential impact of the Kyoto protocol.
Worldwide, oil remains the dominant source of energy throughout the projection horizon, because of its role in the transportation sector and accounts for about 40 % of the world energy demand. By 2020, transportation is expected to account for 52 % of world oil consumption, up from 44 % share in 1996.
Natural gas is expected to be the fastest-growing energy source from 1996 to 2020, because it is a cleaner fuel than oil or coal and not as controversial as nuclear power. Carbon emissions from natural gas combustion are less than half those for coal. Gas is increasingly the fuel of choice for new electric power generation. Strongest growth is projected in the developing countries of Latin America and Asia.
Coal continues to dominate many fuel markets in developing Asia, but it is projected to lose market share to natural gas in some other areas of the world. China and India are projected to account for 33 % of the world’s total increase in energy consumption and 90 % of the world’s total increase in coal use. With the exception of China, coal for electricity generation will account for virtually all the projected growth in coal consumption worldwide.
The worldwide decline in nuclear power is attributed to retirements of nuclear facilities in the industrialized world and in the Former Soviet Union, but in the developing world increases in nuclear power generation still are planned. However, it is possible that ratification of the Kyoto protocol could modify the outlook for nuclear power in the Annex I countries.
Renewable energy use is projected to increase by 62 % between 1996 and 2020, but maintains an 8 % share of total energy consumption. Hydropower has limited prospect for the future, partly because most of the best available sites have been exploited. The renewable energy sources of the future are most likely to be wind, solar and biomass. Low price for oil and natural gas in world energy markets continued to diminish the potential for rapid development of renewable energy sources worldwide. Hydroelectricity and other renewable resources accounted for 77 % of the energy consumed for electricity generation in Latin America in 1996; by 2020 the share is projected to fall to 53 % because of expanded natural gas use.
Electricity continues to be the most rapidly growing form of energy consumption. The strongest long-term growth in electricity consumption is projected for the developing countries of Asia. In the future, as in the past, coal is expected to dominate electricity fuel markets, but its share declines slightly, about 35 % in 2020. Natural gas is expected to account 25 % of world electricity fuel market in 2020, whereas the nuclear share is projected to drop sharply.
CO2 emissions are strongly linked with energy consumption, indeed energy combustion accounts for 85 % of all greenhouse gas emissions. As the result of the rapid rate of growth in energy use, worldwide emissions would rise by 45 % in 2015 from their 1990 levels. Globally, liquid and solid fuel accounted for 77.5 % of the emissions from fossil fuel burning in 1996. However emissions are expected to grow less than primary energy use mainly because of strong growth in the use of less carbon-intensive natural gas relative to coal, which is more carbon-intensive.