Growth in international energy demand of just 1.6% a year doesn’t sound much, particularly if you spare a thought for where China and India are coming from, let alone the need to heat Melbourne Cup marquees.

But that adds up to 53% growth in energy demand by 2030 and most of it will still be from fossil fuels, according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook.

It’s a bleak world for non-CO2 breathers whichever way you look at it. For example, as the Smage summarises it:

By 2030 fossil fuels will actually increase their representation from 80% to 81% of the world energy market…..The coal industry is expected to continue its recent strong growth. The IEA said global coal demand would be 59% higher in 2030 (8.8 billion tonnes).

“Australia is expected to extend its lead as the world’s biggest exporter of coking coal and along with Indonesia dominate steaming coal trade.” …, the agency takes a bleak view of the environmental outlook, with emissions expected to rise by 55% on a business-as-usual basis and 39% if significant energy efficiency measures are taken…..

That strategy would bring economic benefits of $2 for every $1 spent, the IEA said.

Renewable energy will increase at 6.6% a year under the business-as-usual model and 8.2% under the greener scenario. But it is expected to make up only between 6.7% and 9.4% of total power generation by 2030.

The BBC’s report is a little clearer on the ramifications for alternatives, but the bottom line remains that, even if governments go ahead with announced policies, Kyoto’s goals are irrelevant fantasies.

Greenpeace predictably doesn’t like the idea of a lot more nuclear energy (youse all get back into your caves and huddle) but the scale of the demand outstrips the alternatives.

Meanwhile the Newcastle City Council is showing how far off the green pier it’s walked since the days of when it was a BHP town by calling on the NSW government to cap coal exports through the city at present levels and it wants an inquiry into coal mining, a coal export levy, mandatory renewable energy targets and personal mini-windmills fitted to hats to satisfy individual energy requirements. (One of the above is not true – you choose which one.)

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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