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IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012 Paints a New Energy Landscape

The release earlier this week of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) World Energy Outlook 2012, was digested with interest by the energy industry. The IEA’s flagship publication is often seen as the authoritative voice in anticipating emerging future energy trends and potential game-changers.

So what were the key insights this time around? Well the global energy map is changing for a start. It is being reshaped by a resurgence in gas and oil production in the United States, a retreat away from nuclear power in many countries post-Fukushima and an increase in both the penetration of renewable energies such as wind and solar and also the use of unconventional gas. A significant rise in oil production from Iraq, making it second only to Saudi Arabia in 2035 as a global exporter, along with policy opportunities for improving energy efficiency in countries such as China offer other tantalising glimpses into the future.

Despite the forecast growth of renewable energies, fossil fuels will remain the dominant energy source. This position is being reinforced by the subsidies the sector receives which in 2011 amounted to $523 billion, an increase of 30% on 2010 and six times more than subsidies to renewables.

Interestingly, renewable energies are expected to become the second-largest global source of power generation behind coal by 2015 and by 2035 are expected to reach near parity. The rapid increase in the penetration of renewables is underpinned by a number of factors including rising fossil fuel prices, falling technology costs, carbon pricing and continued subsidies.

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Posted: November 16, 2012

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