WEO2017, an energy outlook to 2040

WEO2017, an energy outlook to 2040

Giancarlo Strocchia
The 2017 edition of the World Energy Outlook, published by the International Energy Agency, presented in Rome, at the Eni headquarters, on December 1st, provides an overview of the energy sector, which is undergoing a transformation, with demand increasing by 30% to 2040, significant stability of fossil resources and a rise in renewables, also thanks to more accessible and reliable technologies

A constantly changing scenario. This is described with scientific accuracy in the new World Energy Outlook 2017 published by the IEA - International Energy Agency, and presented at Eni's headquarters, in Rome. As stated clearly in the report, the energy sector is evolving as a result of several large-scale changes, including strong fluctuations in oil prices, the rapid deployment of new and cheaper technologies that are especially aimed at supporting the development of renewable energies, the growing importance of access to electricity, changes in the energy policies of major countries such as China and India, and the United States’ continued surge in gas and oil production. With analytical accuracy, as always, the WEO not only illustrates the current situation in the global energy sector, but also presents energy production and demand projections to 2040, based on different scenarios. These projections are supported by detailed analyses of the impact of global economic and political changes on the energy industry and on investments as well as on the implications for security and the environment.

An ever-growing energy demand

WEO 2017 forecasts show that global energy needs will continue to rise, although more slowly than in the past, until reaching about 30% in 2040, which is twofold the demand of China and India. This growth is linked to an upturn in the global economy, which is set to continue at an average growth rate of 3.4% per year, but also to a rise in population that will reach 9 billion in 2040, and to a process of urbanization, which now expands at such a rate that it adds a city the size of Shanghai to the world’s urban population every four months. According to the WEO, the largest contribution to energy demand growth will come from India, whose share of global energy use will rise to 11% by 2040. The same can be said for the whole of Southeast Asia, which is playing an increasingly important role in the world's energy balance, with demand growing at twice the pace of China. Overall, developing countries in Asia account for two-thirds of global energy growth, with the rest coming mainly from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

China stays in pole position

This year's report includes a focus on China, which examines how China’s choices could modify the global development prospects for both energy resources and related technologies. It also has a focus on natural gas, which explores how the rise in shale gas and LNG production is changing the global gas market as well as the opportunities and risks for gas in the transition to a cleaner energy system. To conclude, the WEO 2017 edition also introduces a new scenario, i.e. the Sustainable Development Scenario, which outlines the possibility for the energy sector to adopt an integrated approach to achieving the internationally agreed goals, namely, fighting climate change, environmental protection and universal access to energy.