In its annual energy outlook for the next three decades, published today, the company says that —in about eleven years— gas will be the world’s second most-used fuel on an energy-equivalent basis, only behind oil.
Nuclear power and renewable electricity sources such as wind, solar and biofuels will grow fastest of the current energy sources available. However, says the report, they will remain a minor part of the energy mix by 2040 because of their high costs.
Exxon also predicts that world energy demand will grow 35% by 2040 as electricity and modern fuels are brought to some of the billions of people in the developing world who currently live without power or burn wood or other biomass for cooking and heating.
Those growing needs will be somewhat offset by a slow decline in consumption in the far more energy-hungry economies of the developed world, says the report.
For years the oil and gas industry has resisted efforts to fight the threat of climate change, but now they see the topic as an opportunity to displace coal.
Natural gas releases roughly 50% less carbon dioxide than coal when used to generate the same amount of electricity, and also it doesn’t generate any smog, which it is indeed caused by burning coal.