Although I think this research is persuasive, the scope of the topic is wide enough for alternative assumptions, calculations and conclusions. Because the EIA’s reports are widely used and often cited as among the most credible forecasts, the topic is important enough to take seriously, and if this theory is correct, it would be of some use to find this out now, rather than later.
I should also note that although I call the figures here EIA projections, I did not find EIA projections at the country level. I used their global CAGR% for non-OECD countries. (I used the 2.2% CAGR from their 2010 report. The EIA raised that to 2.3% in September of 2011, when they also raised their forecast of global energy consumption to 721 quads in 2030.)
Perhaps most importantly, this study is comparing figures and projections from separate databases, something that should give readers pause. Although I think that one of the strengths of this study is that it actually uses fewer data sources and more historical figures than competing estimates, it remains true that differences in data collection procedures and analysis may have contributed to incorrect findings in this study.
As I mention elsewhere, I consider this the start of a conversation, not the conclusion. It is for this reason that I have tried to maintain a casual—conversational—tone while writing this, for which I ask the indulgence of academics more used to a different style of presentation.
Sources used throughout this are:
- Projected Population and Growth Rates in Population for Baseline Countries/Regions 2000-2030, Updated: July 20, 2010 based on June 2010 Census Bureau Update, Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base (http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/) organized into ERS/USDA Baseline countries and regions, curated by USDA ERS
- World Per Capita Energy Consumption 1980-2006, International Energy Annual, 2006, U.S. DOE EIA, Table E.1c found at http://www.eia.gov/iea/wecbtu.html
- Real Projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Growth Rates of GDP for Baseline Countries/Regions (in billions of 2005 dollars) 2000-2030, Updated: 12/22/10 Source: World Bank World Development Indicators, International Financial Statistics of the IMF, HIS Global Insight, and Oxford Economic Forecasting, as well as estimated and projected values developed by the Economic Research Service all converted to a 2005 base year. Curated by USDA ERS
- EIA Total Primary Energy Consumption, 2006, http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/IEDIndex3.cfm?tid=44&pid=44&aid=2
- EIA projected growth rates for primary energy consumption calculated at 2.2% CAGR