November 12, 2012 1:46pm
• A sea-change in global energy flows
• “North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production”
“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” says IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”
The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows.
The report predicts that the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90 percent of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035.
While the regional picture for natural gas varies, the global outlook over the coming decades looks to be bright, as demand increases by 50 percent to 5 trillion cubic meters in 2035, the report says. Nearly half of the increase in production to 2035 is from unconventional gas, with most of this coming from the United States, Australia and China.
Renewables become the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035, says the report. However, this rapid increase hinges critically on continued subsidies. In 2011, these subsidies (including for biofuels) amounted to $88 billion, but over the period to 2035 need to amount to $4.8 trillion; over half of this has already been committed to existing projects or is needed to meet 2020 targets.
Ambitions for nuclear have been scaled back as countries have reviewed policies following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, but capacity is still projected to rise, led by China, Korea, India and Russia.
The IEA describes itself as “an autonomous organization which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond.”