The World Energy Council scenarios envision a radically different transport sector by 2050

WEC presents ‘Global Transport Scenarios 2050′ at World Petroleum Congress in Doha, Qatar. Report highlights role of Governments in providing a sustainable future for the global transport sector.

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.

Prof. Karl Rose, Director of Policy and Scenarios at the World Energy Council, said:

“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. 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.”

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.

“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.”

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.

ENDS

Editors’ Note:

Top findings of the ‘Global Transport Scenarios 2050′ Report:
–  Total fuel demand in all transport modes will increase by 30% (Tollway) to 82% (Freeway) above the 2010 levels. The growth in fuel demand will be driven entirely by trucks, buses, trains, ships, and airplanes
– Transport sector fuel mix will still depend heavily on gasoline, diesel, fuel oil and jet fuel, as they all will still constitute the bulk of transport market fuels, from 80% (Tollway) to 88% (Freeway) in 2050
– Demand for these major fuels (Gasoline, diesel, Jet Fuel and Fuel Oil) will increase by 10% (Tollway) to 68% (Freeway)
– Demand for diesel and fuel oil will grow by 46% (Tollway) to 200% (Freeway)
– Demand for jet fuel will grow by 200% (Tollway) to 300% (Freeway).
– Demand for gasoline is expected to drop by 16% (Freeway) to 63% (Tollway)
– The total number of cars in the world to increase 2.2 times (Tollway) to 2.6 times (Freeway), mainly in the developing world, where the number of cars will increase by 430% (Tollway) to 557% (Freeway) while the developed countries will see an increase of only 36% (Tollway) to 41% (Freeway).

Key Takeaways for Policymakers:
– The absolute levels of increase in transport volumes and fuel demand will largely depend on the type of government policies put in place over the next few decades. Government policies will impact the number and technology mix of cars and trucks on the road, and emissions resulting from additional transport activity.
– Expected shift in transport fuel demand from the developed countries to the developing ones, mostly China and India.
– Global transport will remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels with a strong rise in demand for diesel, fuel oil and jet fuel compared to gasoline. This will have potentially significant implications for refiners and the downstream sector as a whole, especially in Europe, where there is a large emphasis on diesel fuels. The global demand increase for diesel is largely driven by demand from the heavy transport, agriculture, and mining sectors. In these segments replacement of conventional fuels with new types of fuel technologies is unlikely to occur prior to 2050. The same holds true for fuel oil in shipping and jet fuel for aviation.
–  The maximum level of biofuels in the liquids markets is expected to be around four times above current market levels. Water and land use restrictions will prevent much further growth. Biofuels tend to be regional phenomena, mostly concentrated in the Americas, with sugar cane biofuels being dominant in Brazil and corn ethanol being the dominant biofuel in United States. The use of biofuels in Europe is largely a result of government mandates. As for the alternative fuels including natural gas, electricity and hydrogen, the maximum level is expected to be six to seven times above the current levels depending on the degree of government intervention.
– It is evident that without strong government regulation, putting public interest and common good before individual concerns, transport markets will tend to develop along the lines of business as usual and little progress will be made in developing infrastructure and technologies to reduce the negative impacts of transport.