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  March 22nd, 2018 | Written by

Future Energy Demand In Transportation Still Dominated By Oil

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  • Natural gas, electricity, and other fuel types will each account for five percent of transportation fuel by 2040.
  • Growth in natural gas demand is concentrated in the use of LNG in trucking and maritime transportation.
  • Future electricity usage in the transportation sector will increase most rapidly in passenger cars and light trucks.

Despite all the talk of alternative fuels, particularly natural gas and electricity, energy demand in the transportation sector will continue to be dominated by oil through 2040.

That’s one of the conclusions reached in the recently-released BP Energy Outlook 2018.

In the primary scenario explored in the report, oil demand will account for around 85 percent of total transportation fuel demand in 2040, down from 94 percent currently. Natural gas, electricity, and a mix of other types of fuels are each projected to account for around five percent of transportation fuel by 2040.

Growth in natural gas is concentrated in the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in long-distance trucking and in maritime transportation. Electricity usage will increase most rapidly in passenger cars and light trucks.

Other fuels refer predominantly to biofuels, with hydrogen accounting for only a small proportion of total fuel transportation. The prospects for hydrogen, particularly towards 2040 and beyond, depend on the ability of hydrogen to compete against liquid fuels and electricity in fueling long-distance trucking.

The number of passenger cars on the planet will increase substantially by 2040, according to the report, while the number of electric cars will also increase as will improvements in vehicle efficiency. The number of passenger cars will nearly doubles to two billion by 2040, by which time more than 300 million electric cars will be included in that number.

Among electric cars, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) will be of roughly equal numbers by 2040. PHEVs contain both an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor, and run on a combination of oil and electricity from the grid. BEVs are powered solely by electricity.

The efficiency of the global car fleet will improve by two percent to three percent per year through 2040, according to the report, significantly faster than the past 15 years, driven by tightening regulations and government targets. In the European Union, new cars in 2040 are likely to be around 70 percent more efficient than in 2000. A typical new ICE passenger car in the EU by 2040 will consume around three liters per 100 km, compared with five liters today and seven liters in 2000.

By 2040 around 30 percent of passenger car vehicle-kilometers will be powered by electricity, the report projects, significantly higher than the 15 percent of BEVs and PHEVs in the global car fleet. “This higher share reflects the importance of electric vehicles in shared mobility,” the report noted, “where the lower costs per km of EVs make them more competitive than ICE cars, as shared-mobility cars are used much more intensively.”

Fully autonomous cars, which will start to become available in the early 2020s, will lead to a substantial increase in shared mobility (and the use of EVs) in the 2030s, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the share of truck vehicle-kilometers powered by electricity will reach 15 percent by 2040, concentrated in short-distance, light trucks.