US EIA projects continued rise in energy-related CO2 emissions

08 October 2021

Global energy consumption and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are set to increase in the period to 2050 as a result of population and economic growth if current policy and technology trends continue, according to the US Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) International Energy Outlook 2021 (IEO2021) which has been published this week. Although worldwide nuclear generation increases by 15% throughout the projection period, nuclear generation in OECD regions decreases by almost one-third.

IEO2021's Reference case projects a slight increase in global nuclear capacity (Image: US EIA)

The International Energy Outlook provides long-term projections with its Reference case providing a baseline from which to measure the impact of various assumptions. Strong economic growth, particularly in developing economies in Asia, will drive global increases in energy consumption despite pandemic-related declines and long-term improvements in energy efficiency, the report finds. By 2050, global energy use in the Reference case increases nearly 50% compared with 2020.

Increases in electricity generation are projected to be primarily from renewable generation sources. "As renewables - particularly solar and wind - become costcompetitive, the IEO2021 Reference case projects that all post2020 electricity generation growth in OECD regions will come from those sources and that they will displace an increasing share of existing nonrenewable, mostly fossil fuelbased, sources," the report says. However, it notes, the projected growth in renewables "is uncertain and may largely depend on changes to regulatory policies and market rules, large and costeffective supply chains to support renewable installations, and a sufficient amount of conventional generation technologies or storage to back intermittent renewable capacity."

Global emissions rise throughout the projection period, although slowed by regional policies, renewable growth, and increasing energy efficiency.

"Even with growth in renewable energy, without significant policy changes or technological breakthroughs, we project increasing energy-related carbon dioxide emissions through 2050," EIA Acting Administrator Stephen Nalley said at the report's launch, which was hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies Energy Security and Climate Change Program.

The full IEO2021 is available here.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News