Forecast sees largest growth for renewable energy sources

Forecast sees largest growth for renewable energy sources
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Federal energy analysts are forecasting that renewable energy will see the largest growth in consumption of all energy sources, followed by nuclear power.

The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook, released Wednesday, predicted that energy consumption from renewables will grow an average of 2.6 percent a year through 2040.

Nuclear power is the next biggest player in terms of growth, with an expected 2.3 percent annual increase by 2040, EIA head Adam Sieminski said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event to roll out the report.

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But while environmentalists and other opponents of fossil fuels can celebrate the strong growth of renewables, fossil fuels will still play the largest role in the world energy market for decades, the EIA said. Nonetheless, the use of fossil fuels in 2040 is lower in Wednesday’s report than what the EIA predicted in 2012.

“Even with this growth in renewables and nuclear, fossil fuels will continue to be the dominant provider of energy in 2040 in our reference case, supplying something like three quarters of the world’s energy use,” Sieminski said. “That’s down from a number that was close to 84 percent in 2012. So fossil fuels are diminishing, but they’re still going to be pretty important.”

Natural gas will edge out coal as the top electricity fuel around 2030, Sieminski predicted, as coal’s use plateaus.

Another key finding from the EIA’s report is that developing countries — those outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — will see the highest growth in energy use during the study period, particularly those in Asia, like China and India.

“In the countries outside of the developed world, energy is going to grow faster than it is in the developed countries,” he said. “We’re going to have a situation by 2040 where two thirds of the world’s energy use, roughly, is going to be in the non-OECD countries.”