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Efficiency gains expected to slow growth in energy usage

Keywords: Tags  energy demand, Todd Onderdonk, ExxonMobil, AISI, energy, oil, coal, natural gas Corinna Petry

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Drivers for energy demand include population growth and economic activity. While the world population will grow to 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion, economies around the world are becoming more efficient with their energy consumption, and at an accelerated pace.

This modifies demand somewhat, allowing it to grow more slowly than either economies or population, Todd Onderdonk, ExxonMobil Corp.’s senior energy advisor of corporate strategic planning, said. "Electricity is the largest source of energy demand today, when 100 years ago it was a novelty," he said May 17 at the American Iron and Steel Institute’s general meeting, co-hosted by the Metals Service Center Institute.

Electricity demand will rise 85 percent through 2040, with growth relatively flat in mature industrial economies and skyrocketing 150 percent in emerging economies.

One of the largest growth markets for energy through 2040 will be transportation, although light vehicle energy consumption should be flat as cars become more efficient. The world fleet of passenger vehicles is expected to double to 1.6 billion units by 2040 from 800 million units today, with the vast bulk of growth occurring in developing nations.

"Heavy duty, aviation, marine and rail are all growing more, reflecting world trade activity," Onderdonk said, but noted that North American energy use will be relatively flat through 2040.

"The biggest change is going to be in the mix of energy sources. Oil demand has already peaked and will taper down. Gas squeezes out coal here, too," he said. Globally, "oil is No. 1 today (as a fuel source) and still will be in 2040. The biggest change is natural gas. That will surpass coal and become No. 2 by 2025."

On the supply side, the Irving, Texas, company expects oil and gas to supply about 60 percent of global energy needs in 2040, followed by coal, renewables and nuclear power, he said.

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