In a world where energy dynamics are constantly evolving, the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) provides a comprehensive analysis in its 2024 Outlook, revealing the future landscape of global energy supply and demand through 2050 under varying scenarios. This overview delves into the findings presented at the 445th Forum on Research Work, highlighting the complexities and challenges of achieving a sustainable energy transition.
This article is a summary. Please read the original article by The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan think tank website, here
The Reference Scenario: A Glimpse into 2050
Under the “Reference Scenario” (REF), which extrapolates current trends into the future, global energy consumption is projected to increase by 1.2 times by 2050 compared to 2021. This scenario sees China’s energy demand reaching its zenith around 2030, with subsequent growth being driven primarily by India, ASEAN countries, the Middle East, and Africa. However, this trajectory suggests that global CO2 emissions from energy use will remain relatively stable, presenting a significant challenge in the quest for carbon neutrality.
Embracing Advanced Technologies: A Path to Sustainability
The “Advanced Technologies Scenario” (ATS) paints a more optimistic picture, where an aggressive adoption of energy and environmental technologies stabilizes energy consumption by 2030, leading to a significant reduction in 2050 consumption levels to approximately 0.9 times those of 2021. This scenario forecasts a dramatic 56% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, signifying a monumental stride towards achieving global carbon neutrality. However, it underscores the necessity for radical emissions reductions in non-power sectors and among emerging economies.
The Crucial Role of Electricity and Renewable Energy
Both scenarios anticipate a doubling in electricity generation, fueled by economic growth, electrification, and a surge in demand for green hydrogen. The expansion of renewable energy, particularly variable sources like wind and solar, necessitates innovative solutions for electricity storage and thermal power generation to ensure a reliable energy supply.
Fossil Fuels: A Diminishing Dominance
The outlook for oil and natural gas varies significantly between the two scenarios. While the REF scenario sees a continuous increase, the ATS scenario predicts a decline starting in the 2020s for oil and the 2030s for natural gas. Nonetheless, fossil fuels are expected to account for a substantial portion of energy consumption by 2050, emphasizing the importance of CCS technologies and stable supply chains.
The LNG Market: Investments and Innovations
The global LNG market faces a critical juncture, requiring substantial investments to ensure stable supply. The REF scenario estimates a need for $9.8 trillion in natural gas sector investments by 2050, compared to $7 trillion in the ATS scenario. Challenges such as supply chain disruptions and geopolitical tensions highlight the importance of technological innovations and strategic partnerships to secure a stable LNG supply.
The Role of Negative Emission Technologies and ASEAN’s Energy Transition
Negative emission technologies (NETs) emerge as indispensable tools for achieving carbon neutrality, especially in sectors where fossil fuel use is inevitable. International cooperation and clear policy frameworks are essential for the development and deployment of NETs.
The ASEAN region, with its rapid economic growth, stands at the forefront of future energy demand and emission reduction efforts. Achieving an economically viable energy mix, while incorporating renewable energy and natural gas, is vital for the region’s sustainable development.
The IEEJ Outlook 2024 underscores the multifaceted challenges and opportunities in the global energy landscape, emphasizing the need for advanced technologies, international cooperation, and strategic investments to navigate the transition to a more sustainable and resilient energy future. The path ahead is complex, but with concerted effort and innovation, achieving a balanced and carbon-neutral energy system is within reach.
Staff’s Book Suggestions Related to the Article:
- “The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations” by Daniel Yergin
- “Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air” by David J.C. MacKay
- “Energy and Civilization: A History” by Vaclav Smil
- “Clean Energy Nation: Freeing America from the Tyranny of Fossil Fuels” by Jerry McNerney and Martin Cheek
- “Negative Emissions Technologies and Reliable Sequestration: A Research Agenda” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
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