Fossil fuels to dominate energy mix in 2035

10th December 2012


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Oil, gas and coal will supply 75% of the world's energy supply in 2035, despite the growth in renewable technologies, according to the latest predictions from the International Energy Agency (IEA)

In its annual World energy outlook, the IEA warns that if current policies and trends continue, by 2035 energy demand will increase by one-third and CO2 emissions from the sector will rise by 18% on 2011 figures.

The report predicts that demand for natural gas will increase by 50%, with nearly half of the increase accounted for by unconventional gas sources, such as shale gas, in the US, Australia and China. Meanwhile, global consumption of coal will rise by 21% led by demand in China and India – according to the World Resources Institute more than three-quarters of the 1,199 new coal-fired power plants being proposed globally are in China and India.

Although the IEA also predicts that renewable energy capacity will increase dramatically, becoming the second-largest source of electricity by 2015 and supplying 31% of electricity by 2035, expansion is critically dependent on subsidies.

To ensure that carbon emissions from the energy sector are kept within sustainable limits, policymakers must to do more to cut energy demand, the report concludes. The IEA calculates that energy savings equivalent to nearly 20% of global demand in 2010 are possible in coming decades, but that not enough action is being taken.

“Our analysis shows that in the absence of a concerted policy push, two-thirds of the economically viable potential to improve energy efficiency will remain unrealised through to 2035,” said Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA and lead author of the report.

The agency also cautions that if global warming is to be restricted to 2°C by 2050, no more than one-third of fossil fuels reserves should be burned unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) is deployed.

The warning came as Ed Davey confirmed that UK CCS projects had failed to secure any of the EU’s €1.5 billion NER300 fund for the development of renewables and CCS.

Chris Davies MEP described the decision as a “slap in the face” for the UK companies that have invested time and money in preparing CCS developments.

“With more potential schemes in the UK than in any other European country it's also a huge blow for hopes of CCS development across the continent,” he said. "If the Treasury is prepared to turn down the potential offer of more than €600 million of EU funding then there must be cynicsm about whether any serious CCS investment will ever gain approval.”

The UK’s CCS cost reduction task force recently published a report predicting that the cost of electricity generated by power plants with CCS could be equal to that from other low-carbon sources in the decade, if investments are made now to deploy large-scale CCS infrastructure.

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