World Energy Outlook 2009 seeks to add momentum to their negotiations at this crucial stage by detailing the practical steps needed for a sustainable energy future as part of a global climate deal,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency today in London at the launch of the new WEO – the annual flagship publication of the IEA.

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World Energy Outlook 2009 - (press release and excerpt)

10 November 2009 London --- "World leaders gathering in Copenhagen next month for the UN Climate summit have a historic opportunity to avert the worst effects of climate change. The World Energy Outlook 2009 seeks to add momentum to their negotiations at this crucial stage by detailing the practical steps needed for a sustainable energy future as part of a global climate deal,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency today in London at the launch of the new WEO – the annual flagship publication of the IEA.

WEO-2009 provides both a caution and grounds for optimism. Caution, because a continuation of current trends in energy use puts the world on track for a rise in temperature of up to 6°C and poses serious threats to global energy security. Optimism, because there are cost-effective solutions to avoid severe climate change while also enhancing energy security – and these are within reach as the new Outlook shows,” added Mr. Tanaka.

Although, as one of the consequences of the financial crisis, global energy use is set to fall this year, WEO-2009 projects that it will soon resume its upward trend if government policies don’t change. In this Reference Scenario, demand increases by 40% between now and 2030, reaching 16.8 billion tonnes of oil equivalent. Projected global demand is lower than in last year’s report, reflecting the impact of the economic crisis and of new government policies introduced over the past year. Fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, accounting for more than three-quarters of incremental demand. Non-OECD countries account for over 90% of this increase, and China and India alone for over half. In addition to increasing susceptibility to energy price spikes, the Reference Scenario projects a persistently high level of spending on oil and gas imports which would represent a substantial financial burden on import-dependent consumers. China overtakes the US around 2025 to become the world’s biggest spender on oil and gas imports. The energy poverty challenge also remains unresolved with 1.3 billion people still without electricity in 2030 from 1.5 billion today; though universal access could be achieved with investment of only $35 billion per year in 2008-2030.

WEO-2009 demonstrates that containing climate change is possible but will require a profound transformation of the energy sector. A 450 Scenario sets out an aggressive timetable of actions needed to limit the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million of carbon-dioxide equivalent and keep the global temperature rise to around 2°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this scenario, fossil-fuel demand would need to peak by 2020 and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to fall to 26.4 gigatonnes in 2030 from 28.8 Gt in 2007.

“At the IEA Ministerial meeting, a large majority of Ministers showed their intention to take the lead, organise themselves and commit to the challenge to reach the 450 Scenario - the energy path of Green Growth. Only by mitigation action in all sectors and regions can we turn the 450 Scenario into reality,” stressed Mr. Tanaka. Energy efficiency is the largest contributor, accounting for over half of total abatement by 2030. Low-carbon energy technologies also play a crucial role: around 60% of global electricity production comes from renewables (37%), nuclear (18%) and plants fitted with carbon capture and storage (5%) in 2030. Furthermore, a dramatic shift in car sales occurs, with hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles representing almost 60% of sales in 2030, from around 1% today.

Compared to the Reference Scenario, cumulative incremental investment of $10.5 trillion is needed in the 450 Scenario in low-carbon energy technologies and energy efficiency by 2030. In addition to avoiding severe climate change, this cost is largely offset by economic, health and energy-security benefits. Energy bills in transport, buildings and industry alone are reduced by $8.6 trillion globally over the period 2010-2030. “The challenge for climate negotiators is to agree on instruments that will give the right incentives to ensure that the necessary investments are made and on mechanisms to finance those investments in non-OECD countries,” said Mr. Tanaka and added: “In our 450 scenario in OECD countries the carbon price reaches $50 per tonne of CO2 in 2020 and $110 in 2030.”

WEO-2009 also identifies higher oil prices, coupled with the downturn in oil sector investment, as a serious threat to the world economy, just as it is beginning to recover. As a result of the financial crisis, investment in upstream oil and gas has already been cut by over $90 billion this year compared with 2008. While oil demand has dropped sharply, in the Reference Scenario it starts recovering in 2010, reaching 88 mb/d in 2015 and then 105 mb/d in 2030. “Calling for increased investment in fossil-fuel supply is not inconsistent with the need to move to a low-carbon energy pathway,” stressed Mr. Tanaka. “Even in the 450 Scenario, OPEC production still increases substantially in the period to 2030, boosting those countries’ revenues in real terms to four times their level of the previous 23 years,” he added.

Whatever climate policies are introduced, natural gas – a special focus in WEO-2009 – is also set to continue to play a bridging role in meeting the world’s sustainable energy needs. In the Reference Scenario, gas demand rises by 41% from 3.0 trillion cubic metres in 2007 to 4.3 tcm in 2030. Gas demand also continues to expand in the 450 Scenario but is 17% lower in 2030 than in the Reference Scenario thanks to more efficient use, lower electricity demand and increased switching to non-fossil energy sources.

The recent rapid development of unconventional gas resources – notably shale gas – in North America has transformed the gas-market outlook. “Unconventional gas is unquestionably a game-changer in North America with potentially significant implications for the rest of the world,” said Mr. Tanaka. The share of unconventional gas in total US gas output jumped from 44% in 2005 to around 50% in 2008 and, in the Reference Scenario, is projected to rise to almost 60% in 2030. The boom in North American unconventional gas production, together with the recession’s impact on demand, is expected to prolong the glut of gas supply for the next few years. The analysis of WEO-2009 shows that the annual under-utilisation of inter-regional pipeline and LNG capacity could rise from around 60 billion cubic metres in 2007 to 200 bcm by 2015. This glut could have far-reaching consequences for the structure of gas markets, with suppliers to Europe and Asia-Pacific coming under pressure to modify pricing terms under long-term contracts, to de-link gas prices from oil prices, sell more gas on a spot basis and to cut prices to stimulate demand.

WEO-2009 also provides a focus on Southeast Asia in recognition of its growing influence on energy markets. In the Reference Scenario, Southeast Asia’s energy demand expands by 76% in 2007-2030. “Coupled with strong growth in China and India, this robust demand in Southeast Asia is refocusing the global energy landscape increasingly towards Asia,“ stated Mr. Tanaka.

(excerpted from the Executive Summary)
The past 12 months have seen enormous upheavals in energy markets around the world, yet the challenges of transforming the global energy system remain urgent and daunting. The global financial crisis and ensuing recession have had a dramatic impact on the outlook for energy markets, particularly in the next few years. World energy demand in aggregate has already plunged with the economic contraction; how quickly it rebounds depends largely on how quickly the global economy recovers. Countries have responded to the threat of economic melt-down as a result of the financial crisis with prompt and co-ordinated fiscal and monetary stimuli on an unprecedented scale. In many cases, stimulus packages have included measures to promote clean energy with the aim of tackling an even bigger, and just as real, longterm threat — that of disastrous climate change.

How we rise to that challenge will have far-reaching consequences for energy markets. As the leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions, energy is at the heart of the problem and so must be integral to the solution. The time to act has arrived: the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen (December 2009) presents a decisive opportunity to negotiate a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol — one that puts the world onto a truly sustainable energy path. The World Energy Outlook 2009 (WEO-2009) quantifies the challenge and shows what is required to overcome it.

The scale and breadth of the energy challenge is enormous — far greater than many people realise. But it can and must be met. The recession, by curbing the growth in greenhouse-gas emissions, has made the task of transforming the energy sector easier by giving us an unprecedented, yet relatively narrow, window of opportunity to take action to concentrate investment on low-carbon technology. Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2009 will be well below what they would have been had the recession not occurred. But this saving will count for nothing if a robust deal is not reached in Copenhagen — and emissions resume their upward path.

Households and businesses are largely responsible for making the required investments, but governments hold the key to changing the mix of energy investment. The policy and regulatory frameworks established at national and international levels will determine whether investment and consumption decisions are steered towards low-carbon options. Accordingly, this Outlook presents the results of two scenarios: a Reference Scenario, which provides a baseline picture of how global energy markets would evolve if governments make no changes to their existing policies and measures; and a 450 Scenario, which depicts a world in which collective policy action is taken to limit the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million of CO2-equivalent (ppm CO2-eq), an objective that is gaining widespread support around the world.

...Global energy use is set to fall in 2009 — for the first time since 1981 on any significant scale — as a result of the financial and economic crisis; but, on current policies, it would quickly resume its long-term upward trend once economic recovery is underway. In our Reference Scenario, world primary energy demand is projected to increase by 1.5% per year between 2007 and 2030, from just over 12 000 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) to 16 800 Mtoe — an overall increase of 40%. Developing Asian countries are the main drivers of this growth, followed by the Middle East. Projected demand growth is slower than in WEO-2008, reflecting mainly the impact of the crisis in the early part of the projection period, as well as of new government policies introduced during the past year. On average, demand declines marginally in 2007-2010, as a result of a sharp drop in 2009 — preliminary data point to a fall in that year of up to 2%. Demand growth rebounds thereafter, averaging 2.5% per year in 2010-2015. The pace of demand growth slackens progressively after 2015, as emerging economies mature and global population growth slows.

Fossil fuels remain the dominant sources of primary energy worldwide in the Reference Scenario, accounting for more than three-quarters of the overall increase in energy use between 2007 and 2030. In absolute terms, coal sees by far the biggest increase in demand over the projection period, followed by gas and oil. Yet oil remains the single largest fuel in the primary fuel mix in 2030, even though its share drops, from 34% now to 30%. Oil demand (excluding biofuels) is projected to grow by 1% per year on average over the projection period, from 85 million barrels per day in 2008 to 105 mb/d in 2030. All the growth comes from non-OECD countries: OECD demand actually falls. The transport sector accounts for 97% of the increase in oil use. As conventional oil production in countries not belonging to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) peaks around 2010, most of the increase in output would need to come from OPEC countries, which hold the bulk of remaining recoverable conventional oil resources.

...Continuing on today’s energy path, without any change in government policy, would mean rapidly increasing dependence on fossil fuels, with alarming consequences for climate change and energy security. The Reference Scenario sees a continued rapid rise in energy-related CO2 emissions through to 2030, resulting from increased global demand for fossil energy. Having already increased from 20.9 gigatonnes (Gt) in 1990 to 28.8 Gt in 2007, CO2 emissions are projected to reach 34.5 Gt in 2020 and 40.2 Gt in 2030 — an average rate of growth of 1.5% per year over the full projection period. In 2020, global emissions are 1.9 Gt or 5% lower than in the Reference Scenario of WEO- 2008. The economic crisis and resulting lower fossil-energy demand growth account for three-quarters of this improvement, while government stimulus spending to promote low-carbon investments and other new energy and climate policies account for the remainder. Preliminary data suggest that global energy-related emissions of CO2 may decline in 2009 — possibly by around 3% — although they are expected to resume an upward trajectory from 2010.

The Reference Scenario trends also heighten concerns about the security of energy supplies. While the OECD imports less oil in 2030 than today in the Reference Scenario, some non-OECD countries, notably China and India, see big increases in their imports. Most gas-importing regions, including Europe and developing Asia, also see their net imports rise. The Reference Scenario projections imply an increasingly high level of spending on energy imports, representing a major economic burden for importers. Oil prices are assumed to fall from the 2008 level of $97 per barrel to around $60 per barrel in 2009 (roughly the level of mid-2009), but then rebound with the economic recovery to reach $100 per barrel by 2020 and $115 per barrel by 2030 (in year-2008 dollars). As a result, OECD countries as a group are projected to spend on average close to 2% of their GDP on oil and gas imports to 2030. The burden is even higher in most importing non-OECD countries. On a country basis, China overtakes the United States soon after 2025 to become the world’s biggest spender on oil and gas imports (in monetary terms) while India’s spending on oil and gas imports surpasses that of Japan soon after 2020 to become the world’s third-largest importer. The increasing concentration of the world’s remaining conventional oil and gas reserves in a small group of countries, including Russia and resource-rich Middle East countries, would increase their market power and ability to influence prices.

...With the assumed resumption of global economic growth from 2010, demand for natural gas worldwide is set to resume its long-term upwards trend, though the pace of demand growth hinges critically on the strength of climate policy action. Constraints on the rate at which low-carbon technologies can be deployed, and the low carbon content of gas relative to coal and oil, mean that gas demand will continue to expand, even in the 450 Scenario. In the Reference Scenario, global gas demand rises from 3.0 trillion cubic metres (tcm) in 2007 to 4.3 tcm in 2030 — an average rate of increase of 1.5% per year. The share of gas in the global primary energy mix increases marginally, from 20.9% in 2007 to 21.2% in 2030. Over 80% of the increase in gas use between 2007 and 2030 occurs in non-OECD countries, with the biggest rise occurring in the Middle East. India and China see the most rapid rates of increase. The power sector is expected to remain the largest driver of gas demand in all regions.

Editorial Notes: You can link to the Executive Summary of the report here. The presentation to the press slideshow can be viewed here. related: IEA Cuts 2030 Global Oil Demand Forecast on Economy (Update1) EB has also covered the Guardian's report on how reserve and production numbers have allegedly been distorted by US pressure on the IEA in previous reports ("Key oil figures were distorted by US pressure, says whistleblower") here. But see the usual denials here. -KS

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