Most of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels.
There is a well agreed political goal to try to limit CO2 to 450ppm to limit the risks of climate change.
Today the OECD consumes a little more than half of world energy (71,480TWh). By 2050, OECD countries are projected to consume little more than today (92,380TWh), but non OECD countries are projected to consume more than twice as much as OECD countries (198,526TWh). Most of this growth in energy consumption will be driven by economic growth in non OECD countries. Most of this energy will come from burning fossil fuels. Non fossil fuel energy supply, particularly wind and solar is projected to grow substantially from (21,392TWh) today to (70,703TWh) by 2050, but will only account for about 25% of all energy in 2050.
The problem is the higher cost of alternative energy competes with economic growth. If you are poor, economic growth is far more important. The only rational solution to this conundrum is to find a source of alternative energy that is cheaper than fossil fuel energy. This allows economic growth while reducing CO2.
The fundamentals driving these IEA projections are economic. Alternative energy from wind and solar is not market competitive, nor expected to be for the foreseeable future, so its market size is driven by the scale of government subsidies and taxes. Because of competing national objectives, world agreement is not possible, so alternative energy grows based on political will in individual nations. This will, as with all things political is very fickle.
The IEA projections assume that fossil energy supply will grow to meet demand, and CO2 reduction will remain a low priority. The known supplies of coal and gas will likely meet projected demand. Oil is more problematic. Oil demand already regularly exceeds supply and given economic growth, fuel efficiency will have to improve at a rapid rate to keep supply and demand in balance. Looking objectively at these numbers a few things are pretty apparent.
1) Long before 2050 the world will face a CO2 crunch
2) An oil crunch driven by demand constantly exceeding supply is highly likely.
3) What OECD countries do will hardly matter. The non OECD countries will be the major CO2 emitters and oil consumers.
These oil and CO2 crunches are big sources of potential conflict. The oil crunch will increase the cost of oil. This will reduce economic growth. As the CO2 affects become more obvious and more difficult to deny, the demarcation line will be more between OECD and non OECD countries, rather than within OECD countries as at present.
As stated earlier , the only rational way to avoid these looming conflicts is to find a CO2 free energy source that is cheaper than fossil fuels. This removes clean energy as an impediment to economic growth. Instead it has the opposite effect. It enhances economic growth.
This is the point where as usual I plug StratoSolar as a clean and cheap energy source that meets all the requirements.
By Edmund Kelly