Asian Growth Fuels 20 Year Climb in World Energy Use

WASHINGTON, DC, April 15, 2004 (ENS) - Led by Asian economies, developing countries' demand for energy is forecast to nearly double over the next 20 years as economies and populations grow more quickly than those in industrialized countries, a U.S. government agency reports. The world will depend mainly on oil and coal, and will use more nuclear power and less natural gas than forecast last year. Carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to skyrocket, in spite of efforts to control them.

Energy demand in developing countries is expected to increase by 91 percent between 2001 and 2025, according to the International Energy Outlook 2004 released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the analytical agency in the Energy Department.

By comparison, EIA analysts predict a 54 percent rate of growth for the entire global economy by 2025.

This increase compares with a 33 percent rise in energy demand projected for the industrialized countries, where gains in energy efficiency and movement away from energy intensive manufacturing to service industries result in the slower growth in energy use, the EIA projects.

Energy use in the transitional economies of Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia are expected to grow by 42 percent over the forecast period. Slow or declining population growth in this region, combined with strong projected gains in energy efficiency as old, inefficient equipment is replaced, leads to more modest growth in energy demand than in the developing world, the agency said.


Power lines serve a Beijing neighborhood. (Photo by Jerry Bianchi courtesy NREL)
World net electricity consumption nearly doubles over the projection period, from 13,290 billion kilowatthours in 2001 to 23,072 billion kilowatthours in 2025.

Strong growth in electricity use, averaging 3.5 percent per year, is projected for developing countries, where robust economic expansion drives demand for electricity to run newly purchased home appliances for cooking, air conditioning, space and water heating and refrigeration.

World oil prices rose by almost $10 per barrel over the course of 2002 and remained high throughout 2003. Oil prices are expected to fall after 2004 to $25 per barrel in 2002 dollars and then rise slowly to 2025, reaching $27 per barrel in 2002 dollars.

World oil use is forecast to increase from 77 million barrels per day in 2001 to 121 million barrels per day in 2025. The United States, China, and the rest of developing Asia account for nearly 60 percent of this projected growth.

Although OPEC producers are expected to be the major suppliers of increased production requirements, non-OPEC supply remains competitive, with major increments in supply coming from offshore resources, especially in the Caspian Basin, Latin America, and deepwater West Africa.

Natural gas is still the fastest growing source of world primary energy in the EIA's forecast. Consumption of natural gas is projected to increase by 67 percent to 151 trillion cubic feet by 2025, down from last year's outlook, when gas demand was expected to climb to 176 trillion cubic feet in 2025.

The lower forecast is the result of slightly lower assumptions for worldwide economic growth, a slower projected decline in the world's nuclear power generation, and concerns about the long-term ability of natural gas producers to bring gas to market at prices competitive with those of other fuels, the EIA said.

Coal is expected to continue to dominate many national electricity markets in developing Asia, particularly in China. With abundant coal reserves and limited access to alternative fuels, coal is forecast to be the most widely used fuel in China's booming industrial sector.

Worldwide, electricity generation from nuclear power is projected to increase from 2,521 billion kilowatt hours in 2001 to 3,032 billion kilowatthours in 2020, before declining slightly to 2,906 billion kilowatt hours in 2025.


China's nuclear power plant at Daya Bay. (Photo courtesy Power Technology)
The nuclear power forecast is higher than in last year's outlook, in light of higher capacity utilization rates reported for many existing nuclear facilities and the expectation that fewer retirements of existing plants will occur than previously projected.

The largest increase in nuclear generation is projected for the developing nations - an average 4.1 percent per year to 2025 - mostly in Asia, the EIA predicts.

Moderate growth in the world's consumption of renewable energy is forecast, most resulting from the completion of large hydroelectric dams in developing Asia. Among the industrialized counties, only Canada has plans to construct any sizeable hydroelectric projects over the forecast period.

The growth in renewable energy consumption in the industrialized countries will come from wind energy in Western Europe and in the United States.

The result of all this fuel consumption is carbon dioxide emissions, which are projected to rise from 23.9 billion metric tons in 2001 to 37.1 billion metric tons in 2025.

Sixty-one percent of the forecast increase in emissions is expected to occur in the developing countries, accompanying the large increments in energy use projected for these emerging economies.

"Continued reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, as projected for the developing world," the EIA states, "would ensure that even if the industrialized world undertook efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, there would still be substantial increases in worldwide carbon dioxide emissions over the forecast period."