While the IEA was at it, it also projected what world fuel consumption is going to look like in the year 2035, after America has achieved energy independence. There aren’t too many surprises, except that natural gas almost overtakes coal, renewables rise and nuclear doesn’t make much progress.
The bars represent each major source of energy. The horizontal axis separates them: oil, coal, gas, renewables and nuclear. The vertical axis represents consumption in millions of tons of oil equivalent (mtoe). The light mauve column represents consumption in 2010, an actual figure. The dark mauve column to the right represents projected consumption in 2035.
Oil remains the world’s leading source of energy, but grows only about 10 percent from 4 million tboe to 4.6. Coal has a similar increase, mainly due to growth in China and India. Natural gas climbs by about one-third and is concentrated more in the developed nations. Renewables leap by almost 50 percent but remember, this includes large hydroelectric dams as “renewable.” Most of the current 1,500 mtoe represents hydro but a larger portion of the 2035 figure will be wind, solar and biomass. Nuclear climbs by about 40 percent but remains a much smaller contributor. There is no large-scale revival of nuclear in IEA’s projections.
The IRA press release describes the situation as follows: “’Renewables become the world’s second-largest source of [electric] power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035. However, this rapid increase hinges critically on continued subsidies. In 2011, these subsidies (including for biofuels) amounted to $88 billion, but over the period to 2035 need to amount to $4.8 trillion; over half of this has already been committed to existing projects or is needed to meet 2020 targets. Ambitions for nuclear have been scaled back as countries have reviewed policies following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, but capacity is still projected to rise, led by China, Korea, India and Russia.”
The scenario has been a cause for concern among global warming alarmists, who see the trend only as a continuation of the present with no significant reduction in dependence on fossil fuels. The IEA recommends a large-scale effort in energy efficiency as a way of reducing fossil fuel dependence but finds hopes to keep carbon emissions at the present level to be unrealistic. If the current models are correct, that would mean the world would have to absorb another 2 degree increase in global temperatures, a significant change in global climate.