For all the talk about energy sources it’s easy to overlook what will likely make the single biggest contribution to meeting global energy needs in coming decades.
It’s energy efficiency – technologies and actions that enable us to do the same, or more, only with less energy.
Consider this: Global GDP has risen roughly 50 percent since 2000. That means better living standards for billions.
Yet at the same time, efficiency gains have enabled the world to use about 10 percent less energy per unit of economic output than in 2000. And that means far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than would have been produced otherwise.
To understand the “power” of efficiency going forward, consider that over the next quarter century, the number of personal automotive vehicles on the planet will rise to close to 1.8 billion – nearly 80 percent more than today.
Meanwhile, global demand for fuel to power these vehicles is expected to peak around the end of this decade, and then decline.
So we’ll be driving a lot more cars … but using less fuel overall.
How is that possible? Efficiency.
As technology advances, drivers will be able to take advantage of more efficient conventional cars, hybrids, and other advanced vehicles to meet their needs.
Of course, efficiency gains will also be made throughout the global economy – particularly in the industrial and commercial sectors. (Read about ExxonMobil’s efforts to increase efficiency in our own operations here and here.)
Our analysts see global energy demand rising by about 25 percent from 2014 to 2040. That’s significant.
But it could be a lot more challenging, because that 25 percent increase takes into account the economy’s expected efficiency improvements. Without them, global energy demand growth would more than double.
Dive deeper into the topic of energy efficiency in ExxonMobil’s The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040.