Essentially all of this demand growth will come from non-OECD nations, particularly the expanding economies in the Asia Pacific region.
Continuing urbanization and a significant expansion of the middle class, particularly in China and India, will help drive this trend, highlighted by greater access to modern energy in homes, rising industrial demand, and significant increases in personal and commercial transportation needs.
Growth in global energy demand will be led by the increasing electrification of the global economy; 55 percent of the world’s energy demand growth over the next quarter century will be tied to power generation to support our increasingly digital and plugged-in lives. A consequence of this trend will be a large uptick in demand for many types of energy used to generate electricity, notably less carbon-intensive sources such as natural gas, nuclear, solar and wind.
Advancements in transportation have shrunk our world, while opening up new vistas and possibilities. One consequence of billions of people joining the global middle class in the next quarter century is that it will lead to greater travel, additional cars on the road, and increased commercial activity. Global transportation-related energy demand is projected to increase by about 25 percent. At the same time, total miles traveled per year by cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and light trucks will increase about 60 percent, reaching about 14 trillion in 2040. As personal mobility increases, average new-car fuel economy (including SUVs and light trucks) will improve as well, rising from about 30 miles per gallon (mpg) now to close to 50 mpg in 2040.
Residential and commercial
As populations grow and prosperity rises around the world, we will need more energy to power homes, offices, schools, shopping centers, churches and the like. Combined residential and commercial energy demand is projected to rise by about 25 percent by 2040. About 90 percent of this demand growth will be met by electricity. Led by the growing economies of non-OECD nations, average worldwide household electricity use will rise about 30 percent between 2015 and 2040.
Almost half of the world’s energy use is dedicated to industrial activity, including half of global electricity demand. Those statistics often get lost in discussions about energy that focus on direct consumption at the individual or household level – the miles per gallon a car gets, for instance, or the size of one’s utility bill. What this “unseen” energy consumption reveals is the critical importance of manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture to the modern economy. That importance will continue as industrial energy demand rises by about 25 percent by 2040, led by growth in the chemicals sector.
Electricity and power generation
Economic growth and development worldwide will increasingly be powered by electricity, notes the International Energy Agency (IEA). Global electricity demand will rise by 60 percent between 2015 and 2040, accounting for 55 percent of the world’s energy demand growth. These facts offer challenges alongside opportunities, and will alter the global energy landscape. As electricity use rises, the types of energy used to generate it will diversify, globally and regionally, led by natural gas, nuclear and renewables.