Global Energy Consumption in 2030: Preliminary numbers and discussion of confidence levels

I have now done for the developed world what I tried to do for the developing nations–estimate energy consumption in quads for 2030. The total matches closely with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, which predicted 279 quads for the OECD in 2030. My total was 280.

So the difference is still the developing world. The DOE’s EIA estimates that the entire world will consume 721 quads in 2030–with the 279 coming from the current 34 OECD nations and the remaining 442 quads coming from the developing nations.

Using almost the same methodology that replicated the DOE’s estimate for OECD energy consumption (which I discuss next), I came up with a much higher total for the developing world. My total for developing countries in 2030 was 672.3 quads, so my global total is also higher–952.3 quads in 2030. Again, the difference, 231 quads, is very large–more than the entire consumption of China and the U.S. combined today. If I’m right, we will be using 24% more energy in 2030 than anybody has predicted to date. This has the potential to have major consequences.

There are two differences in the methodology I used when calculating the energy consumption of the developing world.

First, I used the U.S. Census Bureau’s population projections for the developing world, as opposed to the medium projection of the UN that I used for the OECD nations. Some time soon I will compare the two and report on any discrepancy. In any event, I will homogenize my data sources and use one set of figures.

Second, for the developing world I did not introduce a discount factor for energy efficiency. This was a conscious choice. I believe that energy efficiency is a factor in developing countries, but gets swallowed up by the massive appetite for growth. I think people moving into their first modern apartment in China will buy the cheapest washing machine available as opposed to the most energy efficient and that that will serve as an analogy for other decisions made regarding energy. Eventually that will change, and it will be a factor for later projections. But it’s too early to say that energy consumption will be mitigated by a 0.5% annual gain in energy efficiency for China and India as they move out of poor country status and into medium income territory. Happy to discuss any or all of this in comments.

As a rough first draft of projected consumption, I don’t think this is too bad. I believe my view of energy consumption in the developing world is superior to that of the DOE’s EIA. And, I have doubts about their view of American energy consumption, detailed in other posts here, here and here. After more study, I may add in higher estimates of American consumption that could push the global total close to 1,000 quads by 2030.

As you can see, I’m not done with all this yet. Data homogenization, comparing population estimates, etc. So I wouldn’t take this to the bank just yet. But it does honestly appear to me that the world’s energy consumption in 2030 will be significantly higher than projected.

6 responses to “Global Energy Consumption in 2030: Preliminary numbers and discussion of confidence levels

  1. Good stuff Tom. I will have a more thorough look over the weekend

    • Hunter, I’m confident my son will never have to kill anoyne for food.There are many valid reasons to fight wars.Energy is a valid reason, in some cases.But I think we are wrong to be going out killing people at the same time we’re driving SUVs and not making any real effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

  2. Tom, I think you’re on the right track on developing world. What we will probably observe are different paths chosen by different countries.

    One interesting thing is to see where sustained >100 $ per barrel oil prices will lead us. There’s an awful lot of oil that will be economically viable at that price but there are also many more potential consumers.

    Over here gasoline price is over 8 US$ per gallon right now. In terms of real income, back where we were in 1980.

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