World energy consumption is set to climb by 53 per cent between 2008 and 2035, with renewables outpacing but failing to overtake fossil feedstocks, finds a new report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The International Energy Outlook 2011 (IEO2011) released on 19 September forecasts that renewable energy will be the fastest growing source of primary energy over the next 25 years but will fail to overhaul fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas.

China and India are expected to lead the growth in world energy demand. In 2035, energy demand in China is projected to outweigh that in the US by 68 per cent.

Renewable energy is expected to increase by 2.8 per cent each year and the renewable share of total energy use is forecast to rise from 10 per cent in 2008 to 15 per cent in 2035, the report says. But fossil fuels will still account for 78 per cent of world energy use in 2035.

Natural gas is expected to grow the fastest in the projection period with a 1.6 per cent increase worldwide, from 3.1 trillion m³ in 2008 to 4.8 trillion m³ in 2035.

Unconventional natural gas supplies, including shale gas, are projected to increase from the US but also from Canada and China.

World coal consumption will increase from 139 quadrillion Btu in 2008 to 209 quadrillion Btu in 2035, at an average annual rate of 1.5 per cent in the report’s Reference case.

In the absence of policies or legislation against coal use, China and, to a lesser extent, India and other nations of non-OECD Asia consume coal in place of more expensive fuels.

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