A radically different transport sector by 2050
The World Energy Council (WEC) expects that transport fuel demand in the next forty years will come mainly from developing countries such as China and India, where demand will grow by 200% to 300%. In contrast, the transport fuel demand for the developed countries will drop by up to 20%, mainly due to increased efficiencies. The demand of the developing countries is expected to surpass that of the developed countries by the year 2025.
The report also sets out that oil may still fuel more than 80% of the global transport sector for the next 40 years due to strong demand growth from the heavy duty sector, shipping and air traffic. By 2050 WEC projects that global fuel demand in all transport modes could increase by 30% to 82% compared to 2010 levels. The dramatic increase was revealed in the ‘Global Transport Scenarios to 2050’ study, presented by the WEC at the World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar.
The result of this yearlong study describes potential developments in global transport fuels and technology systems on the basis of two distinct scenarios; “Freeway” and “Tollway.” The “Freeway” scenario envisages a world where pure market forces prevail to create a climate for open global competition and solutions which are driven by lowest cost and the private sector. The “Tollway” scenario describes a more regulated world where governments decide to intervene in markets to promote early adoption of alternative technology solutions and invest in public transport infrastructure putting common interests at the forefront.
“The Freeway and Tollway scenarios describe two extreme ends of the potential future of transport. The reality will inevitably be between these two scenarios with regional differences playing a major role,” said Prof. Karl Rose, Director of Policy and Scenarios at the World Energy Council.
“It is, however, evident that the transport sector is about to go through a radical change. The light duty vehicle sector in OECD countries will be almost completely transformed in terms of fuel mix and we will see a pronounced shift of demand for transport fuels to the developing countries. The effect of the penetration of new technologies seems to be less profound than many have predicted, mainly due to the exceptional growth in heavy transport demand,” Prof. Rose added.
Dr. Ayed Al-Qahtani, WEC Senior Project Manager of the ‘Global Transport Scenarios 2050’ project team said: “Our study reveals a particularly strong rise in demand for diesel, fuel oil and jet fuel which together constitute the bulk of transport market fuels. By 2050, the demand for these three fuels could increase by between 10% and 68%; diesel alone will grow by between 46% and 200%, while jet fuel will grow by 200% to 300%. This has potentially significant implications for refiners and the downstream sector as a whole, especially in Europe which traditionally has a larger focus on diesel fuels.”
The consequences for the environment are significant. In 2010, the CO2 emissions from the transport sector were about 23% of global CO2 emission levels and emissions from cars were about 41% of total transport emissions. With the higher levels of transport demand in 2050, depending on the fuel mix, total CO2 emissions from the transportation sector are expected to increase between 16% (Tollway) and 79% (Freeway), depending entirely on the degree of governments’ intervention in the transport markets and the success in advancing low carbon fuel systems.
Dr. Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the World Energy Council said: "Today, the overall transport sector represents a quarter of total CO2 emissions. Our scenarios show that CO2 emissions from transport could be 79% higher in 2050. However, with clear policies that empower governments, the public and private sector to intervene, we could limit this increase to 16%. In order to limit such a significant increase, we must act now".
WEC concludes the biggest challenge is for governments to provide sustainable transport for nine billion people in 2050, and to do that at the lowest possible social cost, i.e. minimum possible congestion, pollution, and noise generated by additional traffic and freight volumes.
Commenting on the report, Pierre Gadonneix, Chairman of the World Energy Council said: “The World Energy Council proposes scenarios for transportation as a basis for a constructive dialogue between national and local policy makers, manufacturers, consumers and producers.
“It is clear that emerging economies will contribute the most to the development of our future transport needs, with their fast growing population and rapid economic development. However, developed countries have advanced transport systems that currently rely heavily on traditional sources. To ensure a sustainable transport future, and in a time of major uncertainties, there is no other choice but promote a diversified “resilient” energy mix.” said Mr. Gadonneix.
“Only with strong leadership at both government and enterprise levels can a positive contribution be made towards a radical shift in our transportation systems and the well-being of future generations” he added.
The report is the culmination of over a year’s collaborative effort between a core team in WEC, 54 global transport and energy experts in 29 countries, two project partners, IBM Corporation and Paul Scherrer Institute, and the WEC member network.
The full report can be downloaded here.