Global demand for oil is set to continue rising over the coming decades, but the popularity of coal as a fuel will be eclipsed by liquid natural gas and renewables, a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed on Wednesday.
Growth in oil consumption is forecast in the annual World Energy Outlook unveiled in London to slow but still reaches 103.5 million barrels a day (bpd) by 2040. Current demand is 96 million bpd.
Almost all of the growth in oil demand comes from four sectors: Maritime international shipping, road freight trucks, jet fuel for aviation and demand for plastics from the petrochemical industry, all areas where alternatives are hard to find.
Over the same period, the total stock of vehicles is predicted to double but fuel demand for passenger vehicles is set to decline because of fuel efficiency gains, biofuels and electric vehicles.
"We are projecting a decline in oil demand for passenger cars despite the fact we envisage a doubling of passenger car numbers between now and 2040 from around one billion vehicles today to around two billion in 2040," Tim Gould, head of division at the IEA, told a press conference.
Fuel efficiency will help reduce demand by 11 million bpd, and a switch to natural gas and biofuels will also help these figures.
"But the thing that tips the balance is the use of electric vehicles. Today we have 1.3 million by 2040 150 million electric vehicles," Gould added.
Gas is forecast to overtake coal as the most used fossil fuel, with liquid natural gas (LNG) surging ahead of pipeline gas and taking more than half the long-distance gas trade.
Coal consumption is forecast to barely grow up to 2040, as demand in China falls back thanks to efforts to fight air pollution and diversify the fuel mix.
The IEA report welcomed the Paris Agreement on climate change, which entered into force on Nov. 4, as a major step forward in the fight against global warming.
The IEA forecast that nearly 60 percent of all new power generation capacity up to 2040 would come from renewables.