The World Energy Council, an ‘impartial network of leaders and practitioners’ promoting a sustainable future, has released a report that suggest that the world’s per capita energy demand is set to peak by the year 2030.
The WEC stated that while the last 45 years have seen “rapid growth in energy demand”, most of which has been satisfied by the burning of fossil fuels, they predict a very different vision for the future.
“Disruptive trends are emerging that will create a fundamentally new world for the energy industry,” they said, “characterised by lower population growth, radical new technologies, greater environmental challenges, and a shift if economic and geopolitical power.”
The WEC have termed this shift the ‘Grand Transition’ and believe it will “create a fundamentally new world for the energy industry,” according to the Executive Chair of Scenarios Gred Davis.
Davis went on: “Historically people have talked about Peak Oil but now disruptive trends are leading energy experts to consider the implications of Peak Demand. Our research highlights seven key implications for the energy sector which will need to be carefully considered by leaders in boardrooms and staterooms.”
They predict that overall demand for electricity will double up to 2060, but “due to unprecedented efficiencies crated by new technologies and more stringent energy policies,” per capita demand will peak in or before 2030.
Efficiency gains will be made through deployment of more efficient energy resources generally, as well as through technological developments enabling “smart” grids, buildings, homes, offices and even cities, allowing for more active monitoring (and therefore adjusting) of energy use.
The WEC also explained: “substantial efficiencies will be gained through the deployment of solar and wind electricity generation capacity.
“Conversion rates for these renewable energy sources are much higher than those for fossil fuel plants, meaning less energy will be needed from the primary source.”
The WEC predict, under a best case scenario, that by the year 2060, solar and wind could make up almost 40% of the world’s total energy mix. Fossil fuel use will drop, they said, but will remain the primary energy supply, providing 50-70% of the world’s energy supply by 2060.
Part of the Grand Transition involves drastic decarbonisation in order to meet global targets, something that will have to be done cleverly in order to balance the ‘energy trilemma’ – that is, the need to maintain security of energy supply, affordable provision of energy, and adhering to environmental imperatives all at once.
Arguably the biggest hurdle to this will be in the realm of transport, but the WEC predict that by 2060, the portion of road vehicles powered by oil will drop to between 60% and 78%, from around 90% where it is currently.