Last week, the IEA released its annual World Energy Outlook,
a flagship publication exploring future energy trends. Even in the most neutral Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS), the authors see a definitive upward trend in global demand for fossil fuels, with coal demand to peak in the next few years, natural gas demand to reach a plateau by the end of the decade, and oil demand to hit a high point in the mid-2030s. And this scenario looks quite realistic, despite the challenges prevalent on the global energy market.
While there is a raft of news stories claiming that the world’s biggest economies are widely switching back to fossil fuels and aren’t going to give them up soon, the stats paint a different picture. As shown in Fig. 1, the share of renewable energy in electricity generation has not declined, but rather increased in the first nine months of this year – to 23.1% in the US and 29.8% in China, compared with 21.2% and 27.6% in the whole of 2021, respectively, while in the EU, battered by the energy crisis, it has risen from 37.3% to 39% in the same period. Though renewables are picking up pace in some countries and regions, fossil fuels will continue to dominate the global energy mix until 2050 (see Fig. 2).