(EnergyAsia, February 29 2012, Wednesday) — ExxonMobil expects global energy demand to rise by about 30% from 2010 to 2040 as economic output more than doubles while the world population grow to nearly 9 billion people from just under seven billion over the same period.

The developed economies of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which include North America, Europe and Japan will register little energy demand growth even as their economies continue to grow and their living standards improve.

In contrast, non-OECD energy demand will grow by close to 60%, said ExxonMobil, in its latest “The Outlook for Energy to 2040”.

Overall, the world’s energy demand growth will slow as economies mature, efficiency gains accelerate and population growth moderates.

China’s surge in energy demand will extend over the next two decades then gradually flatten as its economy and population mature.

Elsewhere, billions of people will use up more energy as they work to improve their living standards.

ExxonMobil said the need for energy to produce electricity will remain the single biggest driver of demand.

“By 2040, electricity generation will account for more than 40% of global energy consumption. Demand for coal will peak and begin a gradual decline, in part because of emerging policies that will seek to curb emissions by imposing a cost on higher-carbon fuels. Use of renewable energies and nuclear power will grow significantly,” it said.

“Oil, gas and coal continue to be the most widely used fuels, and have the scale needed to meet global demand, making up about 80 percent of total energy consumption in 2040.”

As with its rivals Shell and BP, ExxonMobil expects natural gas demand to outpace the other energy sources.

It said natural gas use, rising at over 60% through 2040, will overtake coal to become the second largest fuel source after oil.

It expects unconventional sources such as shale to provide a greater share of the global output of both oil and natural gas.

Gains in efficiency through energy-saving practices and technologies such as hybrid vehicles and new, high efficiency natural gas power plants will temper energy demand growth and curb emissions.

Global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will grow slowly, then level off around 2030. In the US and Europe, where a shift from coal to less carbon-intensive fuels such as natural gas already is under way, emissions will decline through 2040.