Saturday, June 15, 2013

World Energy Demand

Over the past 10 years primary energy demand has increased by 30 per cent. Given that "in four of the past five years energy demand has fallen in the OECD, despite GDP growth in three of those years", most of the growth has come from the developing world.

This graph provides the basis for two propositions:

1) developed countries will become even less energy intensive in coming years as renewable energy sources become more efficient and as the costs of pollution continue to be factored into prices

2) medium-term growth in energy demand will come primarily from the developing world, but as they develop they too will become less energy intensive for a given level of GDP

According to The Economist
oil consumption peaked in the OECD in 2005. Demography and vehicle efficiency mean it is now in structural decline. It is possible—though BP reckons it is too early to tell—that rich-world energy demand has peaked too. 
So contrary to the view that energy prices will go on a continuous rise as scarcity kicks in, it is possible that real prices could decline over the medium-term. This is because past high prices have encouraged new discoveries and made profitable extraction of previously uneconomic sources of energy such as shale gas and tight oil.

In other words, despite the prophecies of peak oil or peak energy and ever-inc reasing prices, it is clear that the cycle continues. The real issue is whether the cycle is a part of a structural change, wherein the mid-point of each cycle reaches a progressively higher price level.

The structural economic impact of new oil and gas supplies and their associated strategic consequences will be one of the most important stories of the rest of this decade.

US energy independence is a potential global strategic game changer.

(For an explanation of "primary-energy" see here)


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