The International Energy Agency released its World Energy Outlook 2012 report today finding,
“By around 2020, the United States is projected to become the largest global oil producer (overtaking Saudi Arabia until the mid-2020’s) and starts to see the impact of new fuel-efficiency measures in transport. The result is a continued fall in US oil imports, to the extent that North America becomes a net oil exporter around 2030.”
Current estimates show the United States behind Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top single-country oil producers. According to the IEA’s Oil Market Report, Russia leads with 10.5 million barrels per day, Saudi Arabia is second at 8.8 million bpd and the U.S. trails at 7.8 million bpd. IEA projections contend that during the 2020s US production will slip down from 11.1 million bpd (the global high), to 9.2 million bpd by 2035. Saudi Arabia will be producing about 12.3 million bpd and likely become the largest global producer of oil beyond 2035.
Although it is likely that the US’s time as the world’s largest producer will be somewhat short lived, the path to becoming energy self-sufficient by 2035 is promising. This is mainly due to growth in natural gas and renewable energy technologies, which will shrink the United States’ reliance on both coal and oil by 2035. The report states, “In the United States, low prices and abundant supply see gas overtake oil around 2030 to become the largest fuel in the energy mix.”
The US will also have to consider how these energy projections affect the planet. The IEA predicted, “emissions in the New Policies Scenario correspond to a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees celsius.” Fossil fuels will likely remain the dominant global energy medium, especially considering fossil fuels receive six times the amount of subsidies that renewables do. The global temperature increase can be, to a certain extent, abetted through what the IEA calls their “Efficient World Scenario.”
The Scenario calls for: clarifying and strengthening efficiency standards, for policy makers to support businesses addressing the issue through financing and incentive programs, and implementing regulations to “discourage the least-efficient approaches” so that energy-efficient technologies and methods become mainstream.
Renewable energy technologies are projected to play a leading role in future energy production.
“Solar grows more rapidly than any other renewable technology. Renewables become the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015 (roughly half that of coal) and, by 2035, they approach coal as the primary source of global electricity.”
The IEA report outlines the emerging shift in global energy trends, which are straying away from nuclear and tending towards green technologies. However, because global energy demand will grow by more than one third by 2035, fossil fuel-based technologies will continue to dominate the global market.