Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2017
Robert Lyman is an Ottawa energy policy consultant, former public servant of 27 years and a diplomat for 10 years prior to that.
For two days over the past week, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr hosted a conference in Winnipeg that was billed as the launching of a “Generation Energy Process”, one that will lead to the development of a new energy policy that will attain the federal government’s objectives of a “clean” energy system. Speaker after speaker discussed the marvellous opportunities for renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternatives to fossil fuels, and electrified transportation and the “inevitable”, irresistible path to this “Green” energy future.
The problem is that the discussion completely ignored what is actually happening in the global energy markets and what the best experts on the planet say is most likely to happen over the next 30 to 40 years. Here are the facts, as documented in the British Petroleum Statistical Review of World Energy and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2017.
For the last 30 years, fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) have provided 87% or more of the world’s energy needs. Renewable energy accounts for about 2%.
Despite “peak oil” claims, world proved oil reserves have increased steadily for over 40 years, and now exceed 1.7 trillion barrels.
World oil consumption grew from 90 million barrels per day (mmb/d) at the beginning of 2012 to 98 mmb/d in late 2017 and is projected to reach 101 mmb/d by the end of 2018; that is an average growth rate of 1.57 mmb/d per year over seven years.
World natural gas reserves have increased over 50% in the last 20 years.
Global coal production and consumption grew sharply from about 2.3 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in 1991 to 3.8 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in 2013, before declining slightly.
World primary energy consumption of all fuels is projected to grow 28% between 2015 and 2040, with most of the increase occurring in the non-OECD countries. Even in the OECD countries, energy consumption is expected to grow 9% over this period.
Use of all energy sources except coal will grow to 2040 and beyond.
Petroleum and other liquid fuels will hold the largest share of global energy consumption out to 2040 and beyond.
Consumption of natural gas will increase by 43% from 2015 to 2040; gas’s share will rise quickly and surpass coal by around 2030.
While the share of renewables will grow, it will remain well below that of coal.
Gasoline and diesel fuel will continue to dominate the transportation fuel mix; the fastest growing transportation fuels will be natural gas and jet fuel.
By 2040, electricity may come to attain 3% of the global transportation fuel mix. Electric vehicles now account for less than 1% of the world’s light duty vehicle fleet.
Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will rise by 25% in the non-OECD countries, while remaining essentially flat in the OECD.
Total energy-related emissions from fuel combustion will grow from 34 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2015 to 39 Gt in 2040, not decline.
By 2040, China’s CO2 emissions will be almost two and a half times as high as those of the United States. India’s CO2 emissions will match those of the United States.
I just thought I would put all the discussion of “clean energy futures” in context. It is nice to have the facts.