WASHINGTON — Despite persistently high oil prices, global energy demand will grow by 50 percent over the next two decades with continued heavy reliance on environmentally troublesome fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, the government predicted Wednesday.
The projections by the Energy Department's statistical agency said that without mandatory actions to address global warming, the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide flowing into the atmosphere each year from energy use will be 51 percent greater in 2030 than it was three years ago.
”Fossil fuels ... are expected to continue supplying much of the energy used worldwide,“ the Energy Information Administration report predicts, in spite of the growth of renewable energy sources, especially wind and biofuels.
”Global energy demand grows despite the sustained high world oil prices that are projected to persist over the long term,“ said the report. Oil could cost as little as $113 a barrel or as much as $186 a barrel in 2030, the analysis concluded.
The report provided both high- and low-price scenarios because of the uncertainties of projecting future long-term energy prices. Given current oil prices, the report says, world oil prices appear on a path that more closely resembles the higher price scenario of $183-a-barrel oil in 22 years.
Still, the report predicted continued growth of petroleum use in transportation and heavy coal use to produce electricity.
The report's analysis assumes no additional measures to curtail carbon dioxide emissions to address climate change.
The expected growth in energy demand is especially dramatic in developing countries, led by China, that are expected to have continued strong economic growth over the next two decades.
For example, the use of coal worldwide is expected to increase at a rate of 2 percent a year. China alone will account for nearly three-fourths of that increase, the report said.
The world's demand for liquid fuels — mostly oil — will continue to grow to 113 million barrels a day by 2030, nearly a third more than is consumed today.
Unconventional oil such as oil shale and biofuels such as ethanol should grow to nearly 10 percent of total liquid fuels. Still, with continued demand for conventional crude oil, the OPEC cartel is expected to increase production at a pace that will keep its 40 percent market share, the report predicts.