World energy demand continues rapid growth in this year's "International Energy Outlook"

provided by Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy


he world's use of energy will continue its rapid growth at least to the year 2020, particularly in the developing nations, according to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) "International Energy Outlook 2000" ("IEO2000"). Under current policies, EIA estimates overall energy consumption will rise 60 percent from 1997 to 2020. Faster than average growth is expected for the developing nations (121 percent), world natural gas use (104 percent), and world net electricity consumption (76 percent).

This year's "Outlook" has slightly more rapid growth in carbon emissions than last year's estimates. Higher emissions estimates are attributed to revisions in historical data and a higher forecast for oil consumption in the former Soviet Union (FSU). EIA estimates world carbon emissions will grow 40 percent from 1990 to 2010, and 72 percent from 1990 to 2020.

The higher forecast for world carbon emissions is, in large part, a result of changes in the forecast for the FSU. Changes in the historical and projected carbon emissions for the FSU explain almost half of the increase between this year's "IEO2000" and last year's report in 2010; and two-thirds of the difference in 2020. Historical data revisions in the region resulted in a 47 million metric ton increase in estimated emissions in this region for the historical year 1996. Moreover, stronger economic performance in Russia and Ukraine the region's two largest economies has led to a 12-percent increase in the energy consumption projections for the FSU in 2020, as compared with last year's report.

Carbon emissions in China are projected to increase by 836 million metric tons between 1990 and 2010, and an another 634 million metric tons are projected to be added between 2010 and 2020. Emissions in China surpass those of the United States by the end of the forecast horizon in the "IEO2000" reference case. Much of the increase in China, as well as other parts of developing Asia, is attributed to continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels, especially coal.


Energy intensity

The rate of energy and carbon emissions growth would be considerably higher, except for continued improvements in energy intensity. In the "IEO2000" forecast, energy intensity (defined as energy consumption per dollar of gross domestic product) in the industrialized world is expected to improve (decrease) by 1.1 percent per year between 1997 and 2020, slightly slower than the 1.3-percent annual improvement for the region between 1970 and 1997. Energy intensity is also projected to improve in the developing countries by 1.0 percent per year as their economies begin to behave more like those of the industrialized countries as a result of improving standards of living that accompany the projected expansion. Intensity in Eastern Europe and the FSU is also projected to improve in concert with expected recovery from the economic and social declines of the early 1990s, though they still remain high relative to the industrialized and developing regions through 2020.

China enjoyed particularly strong improvement in its energy intensity over the past two decades, attributable to the strong economic growth experienced in the country, falling from a high of 117.2 thousand BTU per dollar of GDP in 1976 to 39.6 thousand BTU per dollar in 1997. Between 1978 and 1995, gross domestic product increased by an average 10.0 percent per year in China, whereas energy use grew by 4.2 percent per year over this same time period.

Other report highlights include:


  • World electricity consumption increases by 76 percent in the "IEO2000" reference case, from 12 trillion kilowatt-hours in 1997 to 22 trillion kilowatt-hours in 2020. Long-term growth in electricity consumption is expected to be strongest in the developing countries of Asia, followed by those of Central and South America. To a large extent, future growth in the world's electricity generation will depend upon progress made in connecting more of the world's population to national electricity grids. Electricity demand and investment in the electric power sector infrastructure have responded positively to the recent net improvement in global economic conditions, and to the movement toward privatization in many parts of the world.
  • Natural gas is projected to be the fastest-growing component of primary world energy consumption, more than doubling between 1997 and 2020. Gas accounts for the largest increment in electricity generation (41 percent of the total increment of energy used for electricity generation). Combined-cycle gas turbine power plants offer some of the highest commercially available plant efficiencies. Natural gas is also environmentally attractive because it emits less sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter than does oil or coal.
  • Oil currently provides a larger share of world energy consumption than any other energy source and is expected to remain in that position throughout the forecast period. In the industrialized countries, most of the growth in oil use is projected for the transportation sector, where few alternatives are currently economical. In the developing countries, the transportation sector also shows the fastest projected growth in oil use; however, in contrast to the industrialized countries, oil use for purposes other than transportation is projected to contribute 41 percent of the total oil increase. The growth in nontransportation oil use in the developing world is, in part, caused by the substitution of petroleum products for noncommercial fuels (such as wood burning for home heating and cooking) as incomes rise and the energy infrastructure matures.

Printed copies of "IEO2000" are available from the US Government Printing Office or through EIA's National Energy Information Center, Room 1E-238, Forrestal Building, Washington, DC 20585, 202/586-8800. The report is also available on EIA's Web Site at The World Energy Projection System, the model used to generate the projections that appear in "IEO2000," is available on EIA's Internet Web Site:

The report described in this press release was prepared by the Energy Information Administration, the independent statistical and analytical agency within the US Department of Energy. The information contained in the report and the press release should be attributed to the Energy Information Administration and should not be construed as advocating or reflecting any policy position of the Department of Energy or any other organization. EIA Program Contact: Mary J. Hutzler, (202) 586-2222.