IEA: Oil and Coal Investments Need to Change

The International Energy Agency has warned Wednesday that the world faces serious dangers from global warming unless it radically alters its planned investments in new oil and coal facilities.
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Nov. 30, 2011 - PRLog -- The International Energy Agency warned Wednesday that the world faces serious dangers from global warming unless it radically alters its planned investments in new oil and coal facilities. Under current policies, oil use will rise 14% by 2035 and coal use will surge 65%, mostly from the developing world. Coal prices in OECD countries would be $110 a tonne by 2035 (in 2010 dollars), little changed from current levels, under the central scenario in its World Energy Outlook 2011, published on Wednesday. Oil will remain the single most important fuel for the next 25 years, as it raised its forecast for oil demand from 87m b/d in 2010 to 99m b/d in 2035. They also warned that oil prices could spiral above $150 a barrel in the short term if political unrest in Africa and the Middle East leads to inadequate investment over the coming years. Investment in low-carbon technologies must be made by 2017 to prevent long-term average global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The IEA in its report also raised its forecast for primary energy demand by a third between 2010 and 2035, with 90 per cent of the growth in countries outside the OECD.

The report sketched out three scenarios for coal demand, which vary by over 700 million tonnes (the current total tonnage of coal traded annually). The IEA's coal price forecasts consequently also varied widely from $68 a tonne under the most bearish scenario to $110 under the central New Policies scenario to $120 in a scenario that assumes current energy policies continue unchanged. Under the Current Policies scenario, the IEA sees demand rising to 7,740 million tonnes of coal equivalent by 2035. The report found that coal would overtake oil as the world's primary fuel. Under the New Policies scenario, demand rises into the early 2020s and then flattens out at around 5,850 mtce. Coal will remain the second-largest primary fuel after oil to 2035. However, if there is a widespread and significant shift away from fossil fuels, under what the IEA calls its 450 scenario, coal demand would start to fall after 2020 to one-third of its 2009 level by 2035, around 3,340 mtce.

Carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 jumped by 5.3 per cent to a record 30.4 gigatons, an “almost unprecedented annual growth.” Rising demand for coal, in particular from China and India, is among the main contributors for the increase in emissions in non-OECD countries. Asia will continue to show the greatest growth in coal demand, but the IEA cautioned that China, which became a net importer in 2009, could become a net exporter again with small shifts in domestic supply and demand. If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed up to 2035, if the world is to meet its target for a rise in temperature of just 2C, the report said. This will leave no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they were zero-carbon.

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Southeast Asian Ethanol is a private group dedicated to supporting the development of localized sugar cane based ethanol production throughout the Asian Region.

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