"The most important 'fuel' of all, will be energy saved through fuel efficiency". That's ExxonMobil's (EM) latest view of the outlook for meeting world energy demand over the next 20 years.
And as Nigel Davis highlights in ICIS insight, this "will require materials and innovation - the backbone for the chemicals industry".
EM expect "40% of the world's electricity will be generated by nuclear and renewable fuels" by 2030. It also expects the carbon price to reach $30/t over the next decade, making natural gas the most economically attractive fuel for power stations. But whilst EM see wind, solar and biofuels growing at 10%pa till 2030, these will still only have a 2.5% share of global energy needs, as they start from a low base.
The key issue for the chemical industry is EM's forecast "that efficiency gains of about 300 quadrillion Btu a year can be achieved by 2030, equal to twice the growth in energy demand over the period". A potential $30/t CO2 price makes it essential for companies to reduce carbon footprint from a cost point of view. But, as Nigel comments, this could also position them "to tap into growing markets for energy efficient materials and the demand for more energy efficient products".