In the International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016) Reference case, world net electricity generation increases 69% by 2040, from 21.6 trillion kilowatthours (kWh) in 2012 to 25.8 trillion kWh in 2020 and 36.5 trillion kWh in 2040. Electricity is the world’s fastest-growing form of end-use energy consumption, as it has been for many decades. Power systems have continued to evolve from isolated, small grids to integrated national markets and even international markets.
Economic growth is an important factor in electricity demand growth. Although world gross domestic product (GDP) growth slows in the IEO2016 Reference case in comparison with the past two decades, electricity demand continues to increase, especially among the emerging non-Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (non-OECD) economies. In 2012, electricity generation in non-OECD countries represented slightly more than one-half of world electricity demand. With continued strong economic growth, the non-OECD share of world electricity generation increases to 61% in 2040 (Figure 5-1), as total non-OECD electricity generation nearly doubles, from 11.3 trillion kWh in 2012 to 22.3 trillion kWh in 2040
• Renewable energy is the world’s fastest-growing energy source, increasing by 2.6%/year; nuclear energy grows by 2.3%/year, from 4% of the global total in 2012 to 6% in 2040.
• Fossil fuels continue to supply more than three-fourths of world energy use in 2040.
• In 2012, coal provided 40% of the world’s total net electricity generation. By 2040, coal, natural gas, and renewable energy sources provide roughly equal shares (28-29%) of world generation.
• With current policies and regulations, worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from about 32 billion metric tons in 2012 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 43 billion metric tons in 2040, a 34% increase.
By the end of 2014, the global installed capacity of wind power reached 373 GW, with an annual growth rate of 15.8%, accounting for 6.1% of total installed capacity worldwide; wind power annual generation reached 702.9 TWh, accounting for 2.96% of the world’s total power generation.
By the end of 2014, the global installed capacity of solar power reached 184.93 GW (including 180.4 GW for photovoltaic power, and 4.53 GW for solar thermal power), with a growth rate of 31%. Solar power generation reached 185.9 TWh(including 183.2 TWh for photovoltaic power, and 2.7 TWh for solar thermal power), accounting for about 0.78% of world’s total generation.
Some environmentalists hope that India would install 1000 GW of solar power by 2030. This would be four times the current world total and would produce about 1000 TWh of power each year.
As of 30 September 2016, the country’s solar grid has a cumulative capacity of 8,626 MW (8.63 GW). In January 2015, the Indian government significantly expanded its solar plans, targeting US$100 billion of investment and 100 GW of solar capacity, including 40 GW directly from rooftop solar, by 2022. Large scale solar power deployment began only as recently as 2010, yet the ambitious targets would see India installing more than double that achieved by world leaders China or Germany in all of the period up to 2015 year end.
In 2012, India generated 1,050 TWh of grid power. In a high growth scenario, India grows electrical power by 7.3% per year for 20 years and gets to about 5000 TWh in 2033.
India’s growth will likely not be quite that fast and the solar power is likely to be a lot less. It seems more likely that India will end up importing electricity via an Asian supergrid where cheap electricity from China coal power is used.
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.
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