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Small ImprovementsEvery year, Exxon published an "Energy Outlook" report, and a few numbers from this year's not-yet-released edition have been revealed. I seriously doubt that Exxon has many friends here, but I still think it's worth paying attention to their forecasts for the energy market, if only because they probably can't be accused of being over-enthusiastic about clean energy... The numbers are encouraging for renewables: "Exxon now sees wind/solar/biofuels growing at 9.6% a year from 2005 through 2030 versus 9.3% a year ago; oil is now 0.8% versus 0.9% and coal is 0.5% versus 0.6%." As the WSJ points out, these changes might seem small, but in the huge energy market, these fractions of percents are big deals, and compounded over a few decades, they make a difference.A couple of other interesting points from Exxon's report:
Gas will overtake coal as the second-largest global fuel source and continue to grow into a major-league fuel. [...]
From Japan to the U.S. to Europe, energy consumption will be flat. Exxon expects zero growth in energy consumption in the world's developed economies. Indeed, energy demand is expected to be slightly lower in 2030 than in 2005. "The main reason is efficiency," says Mr. Swiger. It's a very different story in China, India and other developing economies which are expected to boast a 2.1% annual growth in energy consumption.
Natural gas produces less greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions than coal, and extracting it from the ground isn't as damaging to ecosystems, so that's good news in a way (not a net positive, but we really have to get rid of coal, and gas will probably help smooth the transition until we get more renewables).
It's also good that efficiency is making a difference in the countries that are the biggest energy consumers. Green technology transfers should be encouraged to help developing countries leapfrog over the dirtiest technologies and go straight to clean.