Energy growth in 2013 will be tightly coupled to economic growth and that will remain true for at least a decade. Supply fades as a factor while getting the correct fuel portfolio balance will be a key to quality of life worldwide for the foreseeable future.
We have once again returned to a world where energy discussions are dominated by demand. It’s a very different world than that where all the focus is on supply.
As has been a recurrent theme on this blog, I need to note that many have not recognized this sea change. Organizations ranging from the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Energy Agency to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are still basing their forecasts on potential supply bottlenecks rather than watching how demand is calling forth new supplies from all over the world.
The stories on the DOE’s EIA webpage tell part of the story–from their perspective, trying to give their ‘customers’ (us) what they want. A story of supply. ‘The Availability of Petroleum and Petroleum Products From C0untries Other Than Iran.’ ‘Crude Oil Inventories.’ ‘Weekly Coal Production.’
This focus on supply has led these agencies to underestimate the growth of energy for the future. Regular readers will see me banging the drum again on this.
Energy supply has changed. China is currently building 308 hydroelectric facilities–large dams to generate electricity–in 70 countries worldwide.
Growth in U.S. energy has reached the top of the hill and now has surpassed the very modest growth in energy consumption in this country.
The world has 66 nuclear power plants under construction, 26 in China alone.
While the U.S. plays in its own sandbox with fracked natural gas, Australia, the Ukraine, Israel and plans in Brazil are changing everybody’s ideas about electricity generation and even automotive fuel.
Renewable energy continues to grow, providing almost 17% of all energy used in 2012.
Basically, folks, increased demand from the developing world called forth successful efforts to increase supply.
This is great news–the developing countries will have access to the energy they need to develop up to and perhaps beyond the living standards of the rich world. I am ecstatic.
This is terrifying news, as well. Despite the growth in non-emissive energy sources, the primary sources for fuel remain coal and petroleum. The annual growth rate in coal consumption since 1999 is 4.4%.
This weblog is titled 3,000 Quads because unconstrained growth will lead to that level of energy being consumed by 2075, far more than the supply-oriented organizations are projecting now.