Report sees 50% rise in energy demand

Despite persistently high oil prices, global energy demand will grow by 50 percent over the next two decades with continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, the government predicted Wednesday.

The report forecast the steepest increases in China and other emerging economies, where energy demand is expected to be 85 percent greater in 2030 than it is today.

“What jumps out is the very strong growth in the emerging economies,” said Guy Caruso, head of the federal Energy Information Administration, which conducted the long-term energy outlook.

The projections said that without mandatory actions to address global warming, the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide flowing into the atmosphere each year from energy use will be 51 percent greater in 2030 than it was three years ago.

“Fossil fuels … are expected to continue supplying much of the energy used worldwide,” the report predicts, in spite of the growth of renewable energy sources, especial wind and biofuels.

“Global energy demand grows despite the sustained high world oil prices that are projected to persist over the long term,” said the report. Oil could cost as little as $113 a barrel or as much as $186 a barrel in 2030, the analysis assumed in making the demand forecast.

Adjusted for inflation, the $113 price would be about $70 in 2006 dollars, the report said. “We're not going back to the historically low prices we saw in the '80s and '90s,” said Caruso. He said the EIA price estimates are not firm predictions, but assumptions of what costs are likely to be in the long term.

The report provided both high and low price scenarios because of the uncertainties of projecting future long-term energy prices. Given current oil prices, the report says world oil prices appear on a path that more closely resembles the higher price scenario of $183 a barrel oil in 22 years.