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2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040

Modern energy is one of mankind’s most complex endeavors, and its path is shaped by countless forces. However, we see seven key themes that will play a major role in defining our global energy landscape through 2040.

The Outlook for Energy is ExxonMobil’s global view of energy demand and supply through 2040. We use the data and findings in the book to help guide our long-term investments. It also highlights the dual challenge of ensuring the world has access to affordable and reliable energy supplies while reducing emissions to address the risk of climate change. We share the Outlook with the public to help promote a better understanding of the issues shaping the world’s energy needs.

Why is this important? Because energy is fundamental to modern life. It is critical to human progress and to improving living standards for billions of people across the globe.

Our energy to 2040: Seven things to know

Modern energy is one of mankind’s most complex endeavors, and its path is shaped by countless forces. However, we see seven key themes that will play a major role in defining our global energy landscape through 2040.

Energy underpins economic growth

High levels of growth mean rising living standards. Across the world, the middle class will more than double in the next 15 years. As this growth accelerates so does consumption. Demand for energy increases with more people expecting access to air-conditioned homes, cars and appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and smartphones.

Non-OECD countries lead the way for energy demand

Continuing urbanization in China and India, with people moving from rural areas to cities, will help to drive economic growth. China is likely to be the largest contributor of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) gains. India is also growing strongly with its share of global GDP doubling.

The global energy mix is evolving

As global economies grow and government policies change, the energy mix will continue to diversify. Nuclear and renewables will grow strongly with natural gas growing the most. The diversification of energy supplies reflects economics and advanced technologies as well as policies aimed at reducing emissions.

Oil remains the world’s primary energy source

Oil will continue to play a leading role in the energy mix with demand being driven by fuel for transportation and feedstock for the chemicals industry. These feedstocks help to make plastics and other advanced materials that provide advantages to manufacturers and consumers including energy efficiency gains.

Natural gas leads growth in energy

Natural gas is the largest growing fuel source, providing a quarter of global energy demand by 2040. The abundance and versatility of natural gas is helping the world shift to less carbonintensive energy for electricity generation while also providing an emerging option as a fuel for certain types of transportation.

Cost-effective options to reduce CO2 emissions

Delivering on the increased demand for energy needs to go hand in hand with finding constructive solutions that mitigate the risk of climate change. This is supported by the continuing shift to less carbon-intensive energy for power generation and increased energy efficiency in every sector. Global energy-related CO2 emissions are likely to peak during the 2030s, even as global GDP doubles by 2040.

The potential of technology

As the pace of technology development continues to accelerate, new – and still uncertain – solutions are likely to emerge to contribute to meeting energy and environmental goals. Recent advances in technology are promoting energy efficiency gains to slow demand growth, and also opening up new energy supply options including unconventional oil and natural gas, nuclear and renewables.

This year’s Outlook forecasts growth in energy demand of about 25 percent from 2014 to 2040. The use of 2014 as the base year in this year’s report is a change from recent Outlooks, which used 2010. We made this adjustment to help provide a better perspective on expected changes in energy demand and supply to 2040, since energy markets have evolved quite a bit since 2010. For comparison, this year’s Outlook also forecasts energy demand growth of about 35 percent from 2010 to 2040, consistent with recent Outlooks.

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