Fossil Fuels Will Continue to Dominate Energy Consumption Patterns

Fossil fuels currently supply 80% of the world's energy needs. Global energy demand is projected to be around 40% higher in 2035 than in 2010 – even if current policy commitments and pledges by governments to tackle climate change are all implemented. In this scenario, fossil fuels continue to account for the majority of increased energy demand to 2035, contributing 75% of global energy demand. Energy demand growth over the coming decades will come mainly from the non-OECD countries, especially China and India1. Fossil fuels will be relied upon as a primary resource for higher standards of living in these economies, as they have been for the high-income industrial economies.

The global share of power generation derived from fossil fuel sources is projected to be around 57% in 2035 – again based on the assumption that current policy commitments and pledges to tackle climate change are all enacted. While electricity production from fossil sources is projected to be stagnant in the OECD economies over the period from 2010 to 2035, the absolute level of production remains considerably higher than renewable sources (by around 40%). In the non-OECD economies, the use of fossil fuels for electricity production is projected to be twice that of renewable energy sources in 2035. Coal remains the most significant single fuel source in global power generation in 2035 (33% share)2. Over 130 gigawatts (GW) of coal capacity was added in 2013 – at least double that of any other fuel3.

Figure 2.1 Global energy and power demand is underpinned by fossil fuels

Primary energy demand by fuel source (million tonnes of oil equivalent)

Source: IEA, 2012. World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2012 and IEA, 2013. WEO 2013 (New Policies scenario).

Electricity production by fuel source: terawatt-hour

Source: IEA, 2012. World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2012 and IEA, 2013. WEO 2013 (New Policies scenario).

1 Analysis based on New Policies scenario data from IEA, 2013. World Energy Outlook 2013, OECD/IEA, France.

2Ibid.

3 IEA, 2014. Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2014, Energy Technology Perspectives 2014 Excerpt, IEA Input to the Clean Energy Ministerial, OECD/IEA, France.