BP sees growth in non-fossil fuel use

19 January 2012

While global energy demand is expected to grow by almost 40% by 2030, non-fossil fuels will account for one-third of this growth, according to UK-based oil and gas giant BP. Nuclear energy will continue to play a significant role, with the Asia Pacific region seeing the greatest growth in its use.

In its Energy Outlook 2030, BP says that world energy demand will grow by 39% over the next twenty years, "albeit at a slowing annual rate, fuelled by economic and population growth in non-OECD countries." Energy consumption in OECD countries is expected to rise by just 4% in total over the period. The company expects global energy to remain dominated by fossil fuels, which are forecast to account for 81% of global energy demand by 2030, down about 6% from current levels.

BP noted, "The growth of global energy consumption is increasingly being met by non-fossil fuels. Renewables, nuclear and hydro together account for 34% of the growth; this aggregate non-fossil contribution is, for the first time, larger than the contribution of any single fossil fuel." While the use of non-fossil fuels will grow about 2% per year in the OECD, "growth is concentrated in renewable power" and nuclear output is "restored to pre-Fukushima levels by 2020, but thereafter shows only modest growth."

However, in non-OECD countries the use of non-fossil fuels is forecast to grow 5.1% per year, with this growth "more evenly split between renewables, nuclear and hydro, as rapidly growing economies call on all available sources of energy supply." Nuclear output in these countries "grows rapidly, averaging 7.8% p.a. 2010-2030, as China, India and Russia pursue ambitious expansion programs."

Total energy production from all sources in 2010 was 12,145.6 million tonnes oil equivalent (toe). This is expected to increase to 14,685.1 million toe in 2020 and 16,604.7 million toe in 2030. Nuclear energy output in 2010 was 626.2 million toe in 2010 (5.2% of total), according to BP. Nuclear output is forecast to reach 777.8 million toe (5.3%) in 2020 and 1006.2 million toe (6.1%) in 2030. Most of the growth in nuclear output will be in the Asia Pacific region, which will see output more than treble from 131.6 million toe in 2010 to 449.0 million toe in 2030.

"Power generation is expected to be the fastest growing user of energy in the period to 2030, accounting for more than half the total growth in primary energy use," the report says. It adds that, "it is in the power sector where the greatest changes in the fuel mix are expected. Renewables, nuclear and hydro-electric should account for more than half the growth in power generation."

Meanwhile, the slowest growing sector of global energy consumption is expected to be transportation, with demand growing 26% by 2030. Significant improvements in fuel efficiency - including hybridization of vehicles - partly offsetting continued strong growth in vehicle sales in emerging markets. Hybrid vehicles (including plug-ins) offer consumer flexibility and appear capable of meeting anticipated fuel economy targets in 2030, BP says. The company estimates that the global vehicle fleet (commercial vehicles and passenger cars) will grow by 60%, from around 1 billion today to 1.6 billion by 2030. Most of the growth will be in the developing world with some mature markets at saturation levels. Oil is expected to account for 87% of transport sector energy use by 2030, down from the current 95%, with biofuels filling most of the gap, and accounting for 7% of transport sector energy use. Vehicles powered by natural gas or electricity will account for just 4% and 1% respectively of the global vehicle fleet in 2030, with growth "constrained by limited policy support combined with a general lack of infrastructure in all but a handful of markets."

BP sees global CO2 emissions rising by about 28% by 2030: slower than the current rate of energy demand growth due to the rapid growth of renewables and natural gas. "Carbon abatement policies in the OECD, including carbon pricing, succeeds in reducing emissions in 2030 (by 10% versus 2010)," the report predicts. "Non-OECD countries do make significant progress in reducing the carbon intensity of their economies, but this is outweighed by carbon increases due to rapid economic growth." However, BP suggests that, "If more aggressive policies than currently envisioned are introduced, global CO2 emissions could begin to decline by 2030."

“This report is by turns challenging, fascinating and stimulating for anyone in the energy business," said BP chief executive Bob Dudley. "It helps us to be both realistic and optimistic. It shows there are things we can't change - like the underlying drivers of energy demand - and things we can change – like the way we satisfy that demand." He added, "The main message is that we need to have an open, competitive energy sector, which encourages innovation and thereby maximises efficiency in order to enjoy energy that is sufficient, secure and sustainable into the future."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News