WEC notes global energy demand has more than doubled since 1970. However, it suggests, “The future will be different.” The report says underlying drivers – including lower population growth, new technologies, greater environmental challenges, and a shift in economic and geopolitical power – will re-shape the economics of energy.
The World Energy Scenarios comprise three scenarios for the energy sector up to 2060 referred to as Unfinished Symphony, Modern Jazz and Hard Rock
Final energy consumption to 2060 grows 22% in Unfinished Symphony, 38% in Modern Jazz, and 46% in Hard Rock. Primary energy demand to 2060 grows just 10% in Unfinished Symphony, 25% in Modern Jazz, and 34% in Hard Rock. Per capita primary energy demand peaks before 2030 with a maximum annual per capita usage of energy reaching 1.9 TOE.
New technologies to 2060 will keep energy demand growth moderate relative to historical trends, and will help to enable industrialised economies to transition more quickly into service and sustainability-led growth. Efficiency gains will be made through the deployment of more efficient energy resources, combined with the effect of digital technologies that will help to enable smart grids, smart buildings, smart homes and offices, and smart cities. Advanced manufacturing, automation, telecommuting, and other technologies also will disrupt traditional energy systems.
Over the past three years, the World Energy Council has explored the likely futures and outcomes for the Grand Transition. Our findings indicate:
- THE WORLD’S PRIMARY ENERGY DEMAND GROWTH will slow and per capita energy demand will peak before 2030 due to unprecedented efficiencies created by new technologies and more stringent energy policies.
- DEMAND FOR ELECTRICITY will double to 2060. Meeting this demand with cleaner energy sources will require substantial infrastructure investments and systems integration to deliver benefits to all consumers.
- THE PHENOMENAL RISE OF SOLAR AND WIND ENERGY will continue at an unprecedented rate and create both new opportunities and challenges for energy systems.
- DEMAND PEAKS FOR COAL AND OIL have the potential to take the world from “Stranded Assets” to “Stranded Resources”.
- TRANSITIONING GLOBAL TRANSPORT forms one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in an effort to decarbonise future energy systems.
- LIMITING GLOBAL WARMING to no more than a 2°C increase will require an exceptional and enduring effort, far beyond already pledged commitments, and with very high carbon prices.
- GLOBAL COOPERATION, SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH, AND TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION are needed to balance the Energy Trilemma.
Solar and wind energy account for only 4% of power generation in 2014, but by 2060 it will account for 20% to 39% of power generation. In Unfinished Symphony, strong policy supported by hydro and nuclear capacity additions will allow intermittent renewables to reach 39% of electricity generation by 2060. Large-scale pumped hydro and compressed air storage, battery innovation, and grid integration provide dependable capacity to balance intermittency. Modern Jazz sees intermittent renewables reach 30% of generation enabled by distributed systems, digital technologies, and battery innovation. For both resources (solar and wind), the largest additions will be seen in China, India, Europe, and North America. With less capacity for infrastructure build-out, Hard Rock sees the lowest penetration, with solar and wind generation reaching 20% by 2060.
Other non-fossil fuels, such as hydro and nuclear, will continue to grow. Regionally, there will be greater differences, for example, with hydro being particularly important in Africa and nuclear in East Asia (especially China), and both remaining significant to regional power companies.
Major changes in the energy industry, including:
• Smart cities, in a world that is 70% urbanized by 206013
• Automation, artificial intelligence and robotics
• Workforce of the future and digital productivity
• Energy efficiency and demand side behavior
• Automated, zero carbon, mass transit innovation
• Wind and solar, and integrated grid/storage
• Electric vehicles (EV)
Future cars scenario does not consider widespread success of ridesharing or self driving cars
Does coal demand peak before 2020 and does oil peak before 2030 as an indicator of which scenario is unfolding
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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