GEN - 963.00. On 13 November 2018, IEA issued its World Energy Outlook. The agency is worried about geopolitical factors influencing the energy markets. The outlook publication was preceded in October by two other publications. The one on energy efficiency notes that the efforts to improve efficiency are slowing down. The other addressed cooling and predicts an increase with 10 air conditioners being sold every second until 2050. Improving energy and environmental efficiency for this product will be a significant challenge.
World Energy Outlook
The 2018 report mentions that major transformations are underway for the global energy sector, from growing electrification to the expansion of renewables, upheavals in oil production and globalisation of natural gas markets. Across all regions and fuels, policy choices made by governments will determine the shape of the energy system of the future. The governments are expected to drive 70% of energy investments.
In view of the geopolitical factors, and in addition to climate change and air quality concerns, the importance of energy security will become anew critical.
The trends announced in 2017 remain with America becoming the leading oil and gas exporter. Asia, not only China, would account for more than 70% of global oil and gas imports by 2040.
Aviation and transport will continue to increase its demands for oil.
Energy efficiency – less important?
According to the IEA 2018 Energy Efficiency report, recent trends show that policy efforts have weakened in recent years. In other words, the improvements in energy efficiency that were seen in recent years are now slowing down as fewer new standards and policies were introduced in the past two years. This has contributed to the acceleration in energy demand growth that was observed in 2017.
This weakening of efficiency progress is concerning at a time, when global energy demand is growing, especially as the new IEA analysis shows just how much potential gains remain. The report considers the effect if all cost effective and available technologies would be implemented.
The future of cooling
Growing demand for air conditioners is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate. Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps that governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, cut emissions and reduce costs at the same time.
Today there are about 1.6 bn. air conditioners installed, about half of them in America and China. Only 8% of the 2.8 bn. people living in hot climates has access to air conditioning today. It is expected that the number of air conditioners will increase to 5.6 bn. by 2050, at a rate of 10 air conditioners sold every second until 2050. This increase is accompanied by greater access to electricity as it is estimated that today less than one billion people have no access to electricity.
The challenge for improving energy and environmental efficiency is massive. The drive for more efficient equipment will increase. Possibly, other regions will push for requirements beyond the current European Ecodesign requirements.
The findings of the IEA outlook are worrying. The members could benefit from the outlines in the three mentioned studies. It is highly recommended to read the summaries presented on IEA’s website.
Related documents and links
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Studies on energy policies of countries become available free of charge after a certain while and can be found on:
Energy related statistics can be found on: