By 2040, coal, natural gas and renewable energy sources will provide roughly equal shares (28%-29%) of world electricity generation — a tremendous change from 2012, when coal provided 40% of all power generation, according to a new report. The report, International Energy Outlook 2016, was released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Renewables are now the world’s fastest-growing energy source and are expected to increase by 2.6% per year through 2040. Hydropower and wind are the two largest contributors to the increase in world electricity generation from renewable energy sources, the report stated. Together, hydro and wind account for two-thirds of the total increase in renewable energy from 2012 to 2040. In contrast, coal is the world’s slowest-growing energy source, rising by 0.6% per year through 2040. By 2030, natural gas surpasses coal to become the world’s second-largest energy source after liquid fuels, the report stated.
The world’s energy consumption is expected to increase by 48% over the next three decades even as renewable energy sources increase. Fossil fuels will still supply more than three-quarters of the world’s energy by 2030. Currently, China, the U.S. and India are the top three coal-consuming countries, making up 70% of the world’s coal use. China’s coal use is expected to decline as their economy slows and policies to combat air pollution and climate change become implemented. The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan regulations intend to dramatically lower the use of coal in the U.S. over the next three decades. “Of the world’s three largest coal consumers, only India is projected to increase coal use throughout the projection period,” the report stated.