PARIS - The world may consume 59 percent more energy in 2030 than it does now, with fossil fuels providing 85 percent of the increase, according to the "World Energy Outlook 2004" released by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Under the IEA's "Reference Scenario," two-thirds of the new energy demand will be in the developing world, with China and India dominating the growth in demand. As a result, oil production will increase by 48 percent, coal production will increase by 59 percent, and natural gas production will double. Meanwhile, electricity generated from renewable energy will increase by a factor of six, mostly due to increases in wind and biomass power. Since the world's electrical demand will double in that timeframe, the percentage of power generated from renewable energy will increase from 2 percent today to 6 percent in 2030.

However, the IEA also sees an alternate possibility in which countries around the world pursue a more sustainable energy path. In the IEA's "World Alternative Policy Scenario," investment capital is shifted more toward demand-side measures, causing world energy use to increase only 43 percent by 2030. As a result, oil production increases by 32 percent, coal production only increases by 20 percent, and natural gas production increases by 80 percent. The alternative scenario yields energy-related carbon dioxide emissions that are 16 percent lower than in the reference scenario. Energy-efficient vehicles, appliances, lighting, and industries account for half of the savings, with the other half provided by a greater use of both renewable energy and nuclear power.

Publication date: 11/29/2004