Energy Demand Rises with Economic Growth

02/24/2012 |

Rising demand for electricity will hold the biggest influence on energy trends in the foreseeable future, according to ExxonMobil.

Global energy demand in 2040 will be about 30% higher than it was in 2010, led largely by economic growth in developing countries, according to ExxonMobil’s new energy forecast.

The report, The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040, predicts that energy demand will shift toward less carbon-intensive energy sources such as natural gas, though oil will remain the most widely used fuel. The expanded use of hybrid vehicles will push the average new car fuel economy to nearly 50 miles per gallon by 2040, ExxonMobil believes.

As in previous years, the forecast identifies rising electricity demand as the biggest influence on energy trends. Global demand for electricity is projected to rise 80% as developing economies and living standards improve, though the fuel used to produce electricity is likely to change dramatically. Up to 30% of the world’s electricity production could be facilitated by natural gas, while coal will begin its first long-term decline in modern history, the report predicts.

Other predictions identified in the study include:

  • Increased efficiency will limit the average annual energy demand to about 1%, even with the global GDP predicted to grow by nearly 3% per year.
  • About 50% of the vehicles driven in 2040 will be hybrids, compared to about 1% today.
  • Demand for natural gas will increase by about 60% from 2010 levels, especially in the Asia Pacific region, where it is expected to triple.

The outlook for renewable energy is also promising, Exxon notes. More than 15% of the world’s electricity in 2040 will be produced by renewable sources, including solar, wind, biofuels, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectric power. Wind will grow fastest with a projected 8% increase in demand annually.


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