The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040

Jun 17th, 2012 | By | Category: Environmental Management, Sustainability

ExxonMobil’s view of the world’s energy future through the year 2040 was recently published in The Outlook for Energy. According to The Outlook for Energy, the future of energy use and development will vary by region, reflecting diverse economic and demographic trends as well as the evolution of technology and government policies. ExxonMobil predicts that energy will be used more efficiently and that energy supplies will continue to diversify as new technologies and sources emerge.

According to ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex W. Tillerson, “In the decades ahead, the world will need to expand energy supplies in a way that is safe, secure, affordable and environmentally responsible. The scale of the challenge is enormous and requires an integrated set of solutions and the pursuit of all economic options.”


Key Findings from The Outlook for Energy

  • Global energy demand will be about 30 percent higher in 2040 compared with 2010 as economic output more than doubles and prosperity expands across a world whose population will grow to nearly 9 billion people.
  • Growth in energy demand will slow as economies mature, efficiency gains accelerate, and population growth moderates.
  • In the countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes countries in North America and Europe, energy use will remain essentially flat, even as these countries achieve economic growth and higher living standards. In contrast, energy demand in non-OECD countries will grow by close to 60 percent.  China’s surge in energy demand will extend over the next two decades and then gradually flatten as its economy and population mature. Elsewhere, billions of people will be working to advance their living standards, which will require more energy.
  • The need for energy to make electricity will remain the single greatest driver of demand. By 2040, electricity generation will account for more than 40 percent of global energy consumption.
  • Demand for coal will peak and begin a gradual decline, in part because of emerging policies that will seek to curb emissions by imposing a cost on higher-carbon fuels. Use of renewable energy and nuclear power will grow significantly.
  • Oil, gas and coal will continue to be the most widely used fuels and will have the scale needed to meet global demand; they will account for about 80 percent of total energy consumption in 2040.
  • Use of natural gas will grow quickly enough to overtake coal use for the number-two position behind oil. Demand for natural gas will rise by more than 60 percent through 2040. For both oil and natural gas, an increasing share of global supply will come from unconventional sources such as shale formations.
  • Energy-saving practices and technologies such as hybrid vehicles and new, high-efficiency natural gas power plants will temper the growth in energy demand and curb air emissions related to fossil fuel combustion.
  • Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions related to energy will grow slowly, then level off around 2030. In the United States and Europe, where a shift from coal to less-carbon-intensive fuels such as natural gas already is under way, emissions will decline through 2040.


About The Outlook for Energy

ExxonMobil uses The Outlook for Energy to guide its global investment decisions. To encourage a broader understanding of the world’s energy issues, ExxonMobil has made the document publicly available. Click here to download the The Outlook for Energy.

Photograph: Factory by Asif Akbar, Hungary.

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