In its annual International Energy Outlook study (available HERE ), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) concluded that petroleum and similar liquids would remain the world leader in energy consumption over the next decades, with natural gas and coal following.

While renewables are the world’s fastest-growing energy source, the EIA estimates that fossil fuels will still account for 77% of global energy use in 2040. Fossil fuels are expected to mirror the world’s continual increases in energy consumption, with use of petroleum and other liquid fuels growing from 95 million barrels per day in 2015 to 113 million barrels per day in 2040. The transportation and industrial sectors are expected to continue to drive demand for these fossil fuels – despite some car manufacturers committing to all-hybrid or all-electric models in the next few years (e.g., Tesla, Volvo, Jaguar Land Rover).

In support of its estimate that natural gas will overtake coal as the world’s number two energy source around 2030, the EIA points to abundant gas supplies and increasing industry production. The United States, in particular, is expected to significantly increase its export of natural gas – particularly to Mexico, where pipeline exports have more than quadrupled since 2009.

On the other hand, coal consumption is expected to decrease. China, which consumes more than half of the world’s total consumption, is expected to rely on other sources of fuel in response to air pollution concerns, and a slowing economy. Coal consumption in the United States is also expected to decrease over the next few decades, continuing a trend in approximately 2010. 

The EIA, an independent and impartial analytical department of the U.S. Department of Energy, published the International Energy Outlook for 2017 on September 14, 2017.