The Heat Is Online

EIA: Emissions to Double by 2020, Renewables Lose Ground

World Energy Use Will More Than Double by 2020

WASHINGTON, DC, March 29, 2001 (ENS) - Worldwide energy consumption will grow by 59 percent over the next 20 years, according to an annual forecast released today by the U.S. Department of Energy. Carbon dioxide emissions linked to global climate change are expected to nearly double by the year 2020.

The analysis is issued by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a statistical and analytical agency within the Department of Energy.

The EIA analysts predict that carbon dioxide emissions will grow from 5.8 billion metric tons carbon equivalent in 1999 to 7.8 billion metric tons in 2010 and 9.8 billion metric tons by 2020.

Much of the increase in carbon emissions is expected to occur in the developing world, where emerging economies are expected to produce the largest increases in energy consumption.

Developing countries account for 81 percent of the projected increment in carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2010, and a decreased amount, 76 percent, between 1990 and 2020.

"Continued heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, as projected for the developing countries, would ensure that even if the industrialized world undertook efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, worldwide emissions would still grow substantially over the forecast horizon," the "International Energy Outlook 2001" says.

Overall energy use is closely linked to population growth. World population reached 6.1 billion in mid-2000 and is currently growing at an annual rate of 1.2 percent, or 77 million people a year. By the year 2020, the United Nations estimates there could be as many as eight billion people on Earth.

Fully half of the projected growth in energy demand will occur in tandem with strong economic growth in the developing nations of Asia including China, India, and South Korea, and in Central and South America, according to the report.

Persistently high world oil prices in 2000 and stronger than anticipated economic recovery in southeast Asia shaped the mid-term outlook for world energy use.

Another factor is strong economic growth in the Russian Federation that has been sustained for two consecutive years - the first time this has occurred since the collapse of the Soviet regime.

High world oil prices and improved domestic industrial production helped Russia to record its second year of positive economic growth. In 1999, the countries of the former Soviet Union experienced the first regional increase in energy use since the break up of the USSR.

The improved economic outlook for Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union leads to a prediction of a 42 percent increase in energy consumption in the region between 1999 and 2020.

In 2000, world oil prices rose, reaching a daily peak of $37 per barrel, rates not seen since the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991.

The high prices are due to a tightening of production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and several key non-OPEC countries - Russia, Mexico, Oman, and Norway. "Even a full year of robust prices did not significantly relax the industry's tight profitability standards,especially for riskier offshore, deepwater projects," the EIA report says.

Energy use in China, the world's most populous country, is projected to grow by 4.7 percent per year. But China's energy use slowed between 1997 and 1999, so the EIA has lowered its prediction of Chinese energy use in 2020 by nearly 14 percent from last year's forecast.

Chinese use of coal decreased between 1997 and 1999 in part because of the closing of many inefficient and unprofitable small coal mines, the EIA said.

Even though every other form of energy use gained, the increase was not enough to make up for coal's decline. Still, coal remains the main fuel in China's rapidly growing industrial sector, reflecting the country's abundant reserves and limited access to alternative sources of energy. Coal use in China is projected to grow by 4.3 percent per year over the next two decades.

Energy Intensity

The rate of worldwide energy and carbon emissions growth would be considerably higher, the EIA analysis said, except for continued improvements in energy consumption per dollar of gross domestic product, a measurement called "energy intensity."

Energy intensity in the industrialized world is expected to decrease by 1.3 percent per year between 1999 and 2020, about the same rate of improvement observed between 1970 and 1999.

Energy intensity is also projected to improve in the developing countries - by 1.4 percent per year - as their economies begin to behave more like those of the industrialized countries as a result of improving standards of living that accompany the projected economic expansion.

In Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation, amount of energy used to produce each dollar of gross domestic product is also projected to decrease in concert with expected recovery from the economic and social declines of the early 1990s.

Natural Gas

Natural gas remains the fastest growing component of primary world energy consumption. Over the the next 20 years, gas use is projected to nearly double.

Gas use surpassed coal use for the first time in 1999, and by 2020 it is expected to exceed coal use by 44 percent.

Natural gas is expected to account for the largest increment in electricity generation. "Combined-cycle gas turbine power plants offer some of the highest commercially available plant efficiencies, and natural gas is environmentally attractive because it emits less pollutants than does oil or coal," the EIA report said.


Oil now provides a larger share of world energy consumption than any other energy source and is expected to remain in that position through 2020. Oil accounts for 40 percent of the world's energy consumption, and it will continue to do so for the next 20 years, the analysts project.

World oil use is projected to increase from 75 million barrels per day in 1999 to 120 million barrels per day in 2020.


Worldwide consumption of electricity generated from nuclear power is expected to increase from 2,396 billion kilowatthours (kWh) in 1999 to 2,636 billion kWh in 2015 before declining to 2,582 billion at the end of the forecast period.

Most of the growth in nuclear capacity is expected to occur in the developing world, particularly developing Asia, where consumption of electricity from nuclear power is projected to increase by 4.9 percent a year between 1999 and 2020.

Some older reactors are expected to be retired in the industrialized world and in Eastern Europe and the Russian Federation, and few new reactors are planned to replace them.

Exceptions include France and Japan, where several new reactors are expected to begin operating in the next decade.


Renewable energy use is expected to increase by 53 percent between 1999 and 2020, but its current nine percent share of total energy consumption is projected to drop to eight percent by 2020.

Despite the high price environment that defined 2000, the EIA analysts expect energy prices over the long-term to remain relatively low, constraining the expansion of hydroelectricity and other renewable resources.

Much of the growth in renewable energy over the next two decades is attributed to large-scale hydroelectric dam projects in the developing world, particularly developing Asia, where China, India and other developing nations such as Malaysia, Nepal, and Vietnam, are already building or planning to build hydro projects that each exceed 1,000 megawatts.

"International Energy Outlook 2001" is available on the EIA's website at: