BP Energy Outlook 2030 sees coal as king


BP is in the media spotlight this week for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill settlement, but perhaps lost in the coverage of its past, current, and future oil and gas activities is the fact that the company also has a reputation as a major player in the energy analysis business, releasing annual statistical reports that take the long view of the global energy industry.

BP Energy Outlook 2030 (published in early 2012) offers statistics, insights, and analysis about the future of global energy production and consumption. It points out that by 2030 energy demand will grow by 39%, and that 96% of that new growth in energy consumption will come from non-OECD countries (dominated by China and India).

It predicts that oil as a share of world energy use will decline from 39% in 1990 to 27% in 2030. Natural gas will jump from a 22% to a 26% share. Nuclear and hydro will grow only slowly (6% and 7% of total energy use, respectively, in 2030).

Renewables (wind, solar, and biofuels) will make the most significant growth, from a negligible 0.4% in 1990 to 6.3% in 2030.

But (to the disappointment of green energy advocates who want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) guess what the primary source of global energy will be in 2030? Coal. That’s right, King Coal, which will leap over the slowing use of oil and the ramped up use of natural gas and renewables to become the world’s primary energy source.

To be sure, coal moves up only 0.4% (from 27.3% in 2009 to 27.7% in 2030), but its dominance of the world’s energy use in 2030 is a reminder that dirty old coal (even in its cleaner-burning versions) is still the most abundant and cheapest source of energy in developing countries, and the primary fuel for the hundreds of coal-fired power generation plants being built to sustain the burgeoning populations and industrial growth of China, India, Indonesia, and elsewhere.


Photo by Duncan Harris used under a Creative Commons license.


Stuart Hampton

British editorial veteran Stuart Hampton has been covering oil and gas companies for Hoover's since the Neogene-Quaternary period. Well, actually, since the early 1990s. For the best overview of the oil industry and its history he recommends Daniel Yergin's "The Prize." You can also follow Stuart on Twitter.

Read more articles by Stuart Hampton.

Leave a Comment