Long-term energy scenarios for the most part come in three variants: business as usual, which de-emphasises the possible impacts of technological and regulatory change; a central case like the International Energy Agency’s New Policies Scenario, based on planned changes in regulation and linear development of new technologies; and a radical change version, which assumes much greater regulatory push and exponential rates of new technology adoption.
The key shifts in these models over the last decade has been the growth opportunity offered by natural gas, and LNG in particular; a gradual acceptance of peak oil demand sometime around 2030 as the central rather than radical case, and the possibility of substantial oil demand decline in the low probability, aggressive-change scenario.
The central case outlines the immediate business opportunities; the radical change scenario represents potential threats to the current business model.
New energy investment
Long-term energy forecasts outline three key trends: natural gas demand growth outpacing both oil and coal; oil demand plateauing as a result of rising numbers of electric vehicles and a potential moderation of strong petrochemicals demand growth, owing to growing concerns over plastics pollution; while electrification becomes ever more important.
BP, for example, sees about three-quarters of the increase in primary energy out to 2040 being absorbed by the power sector. For ExxonMobil, global…