IEA & See Peak Oil Occurring This Decade

Again in 2019 — earlier than the Covid pandemic hit — the Worldwide Power Company (IEA) stated it had peered into the long run and will see no signal of “peak oil” occurring any time quickly. There was merely no finish to the demand for oil and different fossil fuels in sight. So much has occurred since then. Covid introduced a pointy decline in financial exercise. Then the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted Europe’s decades-long dependence on low-cost Russian methane fuel.

In June, the IEA took one other look into the long run and introduced “peak oil” was in actual fact on the horizon. Right here’s what its newest prognostications needed to say.

“Development on the earth’s demand for oil is ready to sluggish nearly to a halt within the coming years, with the excessive costs and safety of provide considerations highlighted by the worldwide power disaster hastening the shift in the direction of cleaner power applied sciences, in accordance with a brand new IEA report launched right now.

“The Oil 2023 medium-term market report forecasts that primarily based on present authorities insurance policies and market traits, international oil demand will rise by 6% between 2022 and 2028 to achieve 105.7 million barrels per day (mb/d) — supported by sturdy demand from the petrochemical and aviation sectors. Regardless of this cumulative enhance, annual demand development is predicted to shrivel from 2.4 mb/d this yr to simply 0.4 mb/d in 2028, placing a peak in demand in sight.

“Specifically, the usage of oil for transport fuels is ready to enter decline after 2026 because the enlargement of electrical automobiles, the expansion of biofuels and bettering gas financial system scale back consumption.”

IEA Government Director Fatih Birol stated in June, “The shift to a clear power financial system is choosing up tempo, with a peak in international oil demand in sight earlier than the tip of this decade as electrical automobiles, power effectivity and different applied sciences advance. Oil producers have to pay cautious consideration to the gathering tempo of change and calibrate their funding selections to make sure an orderly transition.”

Defining “Peak Oil”

It’s an article of religion amongst these of us at CleanTechnica international headquarters that the important thing to preserving the Earth liveable for people sooner or later is to cease the extraction, transportation, processing, and burning fossil fuels — right now. My colleague Michael Barnard has written extensively on the subject of “peak oil,” and readers are inspired to take a look at his articles, that are insightful and cogent.

In March, he reported that orders for brand new supertankers — referred to as Very Giant Crude Carriers — have plummeted just lately. Certainly, solely a type of big ships is scheduled to be launched between now and the tip of 2025. The enterprise case for placing an asset in service when the necessity for it’s more likely to disappear earlier than the tip of its helpful life is the very definition of a stranded asset. See extra on that matter under.

Final week, got here to the identical conclusion for various kinds of property. In its evaluation, it finds that power demand grows lower than half as a lot as financial development however barely quicker than a rise in inhabitants.

“It’s troublesome to argue convincingly that one thing will come alongside sufficiently big to upend these relationships over the brief time period. In spite of everything, the majority of the buildings, automobiles, equipment and those who account for many of the power consumption are already in place, and demand patterns change slowly. In 2012–2022, international actual GDP grew at 3.0% per yr, power demand at 1.4% per yr, and inhabitants at 1.1% per yr,” it stated.

The Development Of Renewable Power

Right here’s an fascinating statistic from the Oil Value of us. They are saying that over the past ten years, oil consumption has grown 0.8% per yr, pure fuel 1.7% per yr, however renewables have grown at a whopping 12.5% per yr fee. That makes it fairly clear what the long run has in retailer. The underside line for Oil Value is that they count on demand for fossil fuels to peak in 2027 — which is roughly in step with what the IEA stated in June.

The surge in renewable power is essentially a results of Putin’s failed aggression in Ukraine. Disadvantaged of low-cost methane fuel from Russia, Europe has made a hasty and largely unplanned swap to wind and solar energy. (The UK is heading in the wrong way, sadly.)

As soon as renewables get into service, they go to the entrance of the road within the energy dispatch queue, displacing fossil fueled technology both as a result of they’ve a desire or they’re cheaper. Meaning they’ll have a direct impression on utilization of coal and methane fuel, each electricity-generating fuels, relatively than on oil, which doesn’t depend a lot in electrical technology.

For that purpose, Oil Value believes fossil fuels — particularly methane and coal — might be displaced extra shortly within the energy technology sector than oil might be displaced in street transportation. However, the underside line is that fossil gas consumption as a complete will decelerate and peak in 2027, with “peak oil” lagging a couple of years behind coal and methane fuel.

Oil Value cites a number of imponderables and unknowables that may alter its projections. A stronger world financial system would require extra power. Because the provide of hydro and nuclear energy is mounted and since large-scale renewables require a number of years to return on-line, fossil fuels could be left to fill the hole. A weaker international financial system, however, would require much less fossil gas consumption. The latest give attention to inexperienced hydrogen might dampen demand for fossil fuels and there may be all the time the chance that different wars will upend all projections and predictions.

Stranded Property

Peak oil. DALL·E generated image of big pipeline leaking a gusher of dollars, digital art

DALL·E generated picture of massive pipeline leaking a gusher of {dollars}.

Keep in mind the discuss oil tankers and stranded property above? Right here’s the corollary. Oil Value warns, “If you’re planning an enormous mission, one thing like a pipeline for Vaca Muerta or to attach japanese Mediterranean fuel to Europe, take into consideration the implications of dumping an enormous new provide right into a barely rising market. Will you get the worth you need and your cash out shortly sufficient?” Clearly, the publication is seeing a excessive chance of initiatives like that turning into economically unfeasible lengthy earlier than their helpful life is up.

Peak Or Plateau?

Michael Barnard wrote in March of this yr, “Many are pretending that peak oil demand will end in a decades-long plateau, however that’s wishful considering. Why?

“80% of gas demand is for floor transportation, and that’s all going to impress. That’s low-hanging fruit. As I revealed just lately, India is at 83% heavy rail electrification with a goal of 100% inside a couple of years. China is at 72% and climbing. Europe is at 60% and climbing. China’s 600,000 electrical buses and 500,000 electrical vans make it clear that every one however niches of off-road might be electrical. Pipelines will see dwindling crude, fuel, and diesel masses, with bankruptcies and consolidation, executed strategically and nicely in some jurisdictions, and badly with gas shortages in others.

“In western nations, new automotive gross sales are dropping, not rising. In a latest evaluate of the statistics, I noticed just one nation, Germany, with any rise in any respect yr over yr, and that was 1%. Asian purchases are rising, particularly in China, however China is already shopping for nicely over 60% of plug-in automobiles yearly. Electrical airplanes and electrical ships will eat into gas necessities for these segments steadily over the following 30 years, and biofuels will eat many of the relaxation.”

The Takeaway

Folks have been writing about “peak oil” for 50 years, however that tipping level continues to be elusive. The distinction right now is that commercial-scale wind and solar energy are extensively accessible and electrical automobiles are touring quickly up the S-curve towards turning into mainstream. Nobody can say with precision when the excessive level of fossil fuels will happen, however the certainty that such a time is quickly approaching will get stronger with every passing day.

There may be little every of us as people can do to have an effect on international demand for fossil fuels, however we will are inclined to our personal backyard. Meaning switching over to extra environment friendly heating and cooling tools, driving an electrical automotive, making our houses extra power environment friendly, or presumably putting in rooftop photo voltaic with a backup battery to minimize the quantity of thermally generated electrical energy we use in our private area.

It additionally means voting for representatives who will push the inexperienced power agenda ahead, no matter what our private grievances are towards “them,” “the opposite,” liberals, and so forth. We’re all on this collectively and it’ll take all of us to make the world secure for human habitation for millennia to return.

A tip of the hat to Dan Allard.


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