espere ACCENT online magazine
Printer friendly version of this page
Home    ACCENT Educ.    Science    Encyclopaedia    es    ru    fr    de    it    cn   
Climate Change classes 1
UQ 3 May 07 Cars and ozone
UQ 2 Mar 07 Urban air
Climate change 2007 IPCC special
UQ 1 Nov Dec 06 Particles in air
Special: Oct. 2006 Communication
Nr 10 Sept. 2006 Africa's emissions
Nr 9 July 06 Air traffic
Special: June 06 Climate summit
Nr 8 April 2006 Ozone & N2 cycle
Nr 7 March 2006 Climate modeling
Nr 6 Feb. 2006 acid rain
Nr 5 Jan. 2006 oceanic sulfur
Special: Nov 05 Ozzy Ozone
Nr 4 Oct. 2005 light/satellites
Special: Sept 05 Cyclones
Nr 3 Sept. 2005 methane/energy
R: Methane emission from pipelines
C: Energy today and tomorrow
C: Renewable Energies
A: Activities
L: Links
I: Information for Teachers
Special: July 05 Greenhouse Earth
Nr 2 June 2005 forest/aerosols
No 1 May 2005 vegetation/CO2

Download: Word     PDF


Context: Energy today and tomorrow

Key words:

energy supply, fossil fuels and renewables, emission, emission trading, sustainability

Energy today and tomorrow:

  • What is the situation now?
  • Where are we going?



Oil refinery

1. Oil refinery - when will lights turn off for oil as the leading energy source?

 What is the situation now?

The world-wide economy is driven by huge amounts of energy. Most of it comes from fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal). Experts from the International Energy Agency (IEA) assume that  in the coming decades fossil fuels will account for 85% of the energy need. However, we have two big problems:

1) Resources are getting shorter and the price is raising
2) Greenhouse gases from fossil fuels change the world's climate system

energy projection for the world

2. Expected growth of the world's energy consumption by energy source.
Click the image for high resolution! (15 K)

The need for energy goes up because the world's population grows and even though many technical processes have become more efficient the needs per person have also greatly increased. A major reason is increasing mobility. There are more car owners, cars have become bigger and more powerful and more people go by plane. It's not just people but also goods that are transported over longer distances.

energy needs USA by sector 1970

3. a) Energy needs in the US increased from 1970 to 2000. While the share from industry became smaller, more energy was needed in transportation and commerce.

energy need by sector in the USA 2000

Data source: IEA
Graph: Elmar Uherek

energy per capita


The amount of energy we use depends heavily on our living conditions and varies enormously over the world. The primary energy consumption per person and year is given in Million BTU (British Thermal Units) on the graph on the left.
1 BTU = 252 cal = 1055 J

Energy experts are worrying about the increasing energy demand in the developing countries of Asia, and in particular China. However, the demand per capita there is still much lower than in Western Europe or North America.


4. Primary energy demand per capita
Data source: IEA, Graph: Elmar Uherek
Please click the image for a larger view! or for extra large HERE!



5. Import - Export - Transport ... More and more people and goods become more and more mobile.
original fotos:

 Where are we going?

We cannot clearly foresee where we are going exactly in the next decades. But if the present world-wide policy and consumer behaviour does not change drastically, it can be expected that in 2030 even more energy from fossil fuels will be used than now (see fig. 2).

This is not only a burden for our climate system and living conditions owing to the further increase in greenhouse gases and global warming. The world's economy will also strongly depend on oil and gas rich regions, which are politically unstable at the moment.


gas resources

6. Natural gas resources of the world in trillion cubic meters (tcm). IEA / CSIS
Please click the image for a larger version!

energy need by region

7. Where did and where will energy production increase most? In the future further increases will come first of all (85%) from developing countries. In 2030 they may emit more greenhouse gases than the OECD countries, but they also have a higher population.
Please click the graph for a larger view! (12 KB)
Please click HERE for a list of OECD countries, developing countries and economies in transition.

oil demand

8. Expected increase in oil demand 2002 - 2030 by sector: If we need more oil in 2030 than now, then it will be primarily because transport is growing not only in the developing but also in the industrialised countries.
Please click the graph for a larger view! (15 KB)


Further reading: The International Energy Agency IEA publishes the World Energy Outlook WEO. A brief overview of key contents of the WOE 2004 can be downloaded from the website of the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington: 
Many figures of this article are taken from this source.
Energy demand data are taken from the IEA website:



last updated 08.04.2008 | © ACCENT - Atmospheric Composition Change 2013