INSIGHT: CO2 emissions could rise 46% as China processes more coal

31 July 2013 13:19 Source:ICIS News

By Nigel Davis

LONDON (ICIS)--The biannual energy outlook from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) makes sober reading if you are in any way concerned about rising carbon dioxide emissions.

It also points up key issues in the climate change debate and the potential for the world’s fastest-growing economies to introduce cleaner and more energy-efficient industrial process technologies

“Given current policies and regulations, worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are projected to increase 46% by 2040, reaching 45bn tonnes in 2040,” the EIA said on release of its 2013 International Energy Outlook last week.

In its latest projection of world energy supply and demand, it forecasts that until after 2030, coal consumption will grow faster than petroleum consumption. That is mainly because of the projected increases in China’s coal use, and slow growth in oil demand in the OECD member nations.

By 2040, China will be consuming twice as much energy as the US. India’s consumption meanwhille, despite growing strongly, is only likely to be half that of the US.

The International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO13), based on US government data, suggests that the world’s energy consumption will rise by 56% between 2010 and 2014 with most growth outside the OECD nations.

“Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world's fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5%/year, the EIA says. “However, fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80% of world energy use through 2040.”

Not surprisingly, natural gas is expected to be the fastest growing fossil fuel supported by increased supply of tight gas, shale gas and coal bed methane.

“Coal use grows faster than petroleum and other liquid fuel use until after 2030, mostly because of increases in China's consumption of coal and tepid growth in liquids demand attributed to slow growth in the OECD regions and high sustained oil prices,” the EIA says.

The EIA notes that its projections have been influenced by the consequences of the 2008/09 crash and slow growth in many economies. Its forecasts are based also on current climate change agreements and legislation.

“Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from about 31bn tonnes in 2010 to 36bn tonnes in 2020 and then to 45bn tonnes in 2040, a 46% increase,” it says.

The analysis has been called plausible but very uncomfortable suggesting as it does that global CO2 levels might continue to rise sharply even though renewables use grows fast.

The consequences of significantly increased energy use in China and India are far from clear.

"Rising prosperity in China and India is a major factor in the outlook for global energy demand,” EIA Administrator, Adam Sieminski, said on release of the report. “These two countries combined account for half the world's total increase in energy use through 2040," he added.

And in 2040 it will still be industry that uses most energy, consuming over half of global delivered energy in 2040, the EIA says.

The slowdown by industry accounted for most of the 2008/09 reduction in global energy use in 2009, it adds, and it will be the non-OECD nations which account for 86% of the increase in industrial sector energy use in the EIA's reference case scenario.

“Rapid economic growth is projected for the non-OECD countries, accompanied by rapid growth in their combined total industrial energy consumption, averaging 1.8%/year from 2010 to 2040.

“Because OECD nations have been undergoing a transition from manufacturing economies to service economies in recent decades, and have relatively slow projected growth in economic output, industrial energy use in the OECD region as a whole grows by an average of only 0.6%/year from 2010 to 2040.

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By Nigel Davis