Global energy market model for the energy transition?

Global useful energy demand ramps from 70,000 TWH in 2019 to 120,000 TWH by 2050, wind and solar provide 25%, while 85Mbpd of oil and 300 TCF pa of gas are still needed in the energy transition

This data-file is a global energy market model for the energy transition. It contains long-term energy supply-demand forecasts by energy source; based on a dozen core input assumptions. Total useful energy consumed by human civilization rises from 70,000 TWH pa to 120,000 TWH pa by 2050. 25% of demand is met by wind and solar. Another 10% is nuclear and hydro. The remaining 65% must come from decarbonized fossil fuels, which means phasing out coal, 300 TCF pa of natural gas, and 85Mbpd of oil, combined with CCS and nature-based CO2 removals, as part of the roadmap to net zero.


Global useful energy use stood above 70,000 TWH in 2021, having risen at 2.5% per year in the past decade. It will continue rising to above 120,000 TWH pa by 2050, per our breakdown of global energy demand by region. Improving the availability of useful energy has been a remarkable driver of human progress since the Industrial Revolution.

Long term energy demand per person per year in MWH pp pa rises from 9 MWH to 12 MWH by 2050
Useful energy demand per global person rises from 9 MWH pp pa in 2019 to over 12 MWH pp pa in 2050, although this still leaves 4bn people in the emerging world with 60-80% less useful energy per capita than today’s top 1bn in the OECD.

Wind and solar comprised 10% of all global electricity by 2021, of which two-thirds is wind, one-third is solar; making up 13.5% of OECD electricity and 8% of non-OECD electricity.

Ramp renewables first. By moving Heaven and Earth, it will be possible to overcome renewables bottlenecks and accelerate renewables to provide 30,000 TWH of useful energy in 2050, or 25% of all global energy. An incredible ramp-up.

Another 10% of 2050’s energy can come from nuclear and hydro. We see an outright ‘nuclear renaissance‘ underpinning 2.5x growth from nuclear through 2050.

What about the other 65%? It is simple arithmetic. Almost 10bn people on Planet Earth will collectively be consuming 120,000 TWH pa of useful energy by 2050. 25% can come wind and solar. 10% from other renewables. But the remaining 65% must come from somewhere, or the result will be devastating energy shortages.

(What about efficiency gains, e.g., ramping electric vehicles? Our numbers above are already being quoted on a ‘net useful energy’ basis, after deducting efficiency losses from primary energy suppliers. I.e., they are already net of efficiency factors. Interestingly, gross numbers for primary energy supplies per capita already peaked in 2019 at around 21 MWH in 2019, which is seen slipping back to 20 MWH pp pa by 2050).

Primary energy demand per global person has alraedy peaked at 21 MWH pp pa in 2019 and likely falls back to 20 MWH pp pa by 2050
Primary energy demand per global person has already peaked at 21 MWH pp pa in 2019, and likely falls back to 20 MWH pp pa by 2050, as part of our modelling.

Phasing out coal. Given the need for fossil fuels in the world’s future energy system, we should clearly prefer the cleanest and lowest carbon fuels possible, which are inherently easier to decarbonize via CCS and nature-based solutions. This means phasing out coal by 2050, with a CO2 intensity of 0.37 kg/kWh-th.

Natural gas is the crucial fuel for the energy transition. Natural gas is the lowest carbon fossil fuel, with 54% of its combustion energy coming from hydrogen in the methane molecule (CH4). Hence gas ramps by 2.2x to 300 TCF per annum in our model.

Oil demand moves sideways, rising gently to a peak of 104Mbpd in 2030, which is driven by the emerging world, then slowly declining back to 85Mbpd in 2050.

Electricity comprises 40% of the world’s total useful energy, with 28,000 TWH generated in 2021, and the remaining non-electric energy is used for heat, motion, materials. Our numbers require electrification to accelerate to 60% of 2050 energy.

This scenario is compatible with reaching “net zero” and limiting global warming to 2C. However, the fantasy of “perfect energy” must not de-rail implementation of sound energy policies. Delivering this roadmap above requires pragmatism, progress and the willingness to deploy large amounts of capital.

Total global investment in energy steps up from around $900bn pa in 2019 to over $4trn pa by 2050. A 5x step-up in the capital investment into wind and solar is required, and by 2040, these two energy sources must themselves attract over $1.5trn pa of spending. Capex requirements are modeled out in the data-file.

Total primary and new energies capex steps up in the energy transition from around $1trn pa to $4trn pa, across wind,  solar, oil, gas, power networkds and CCS

You can also ‘flex’ different assumptions, to see how it will affect future oil, coal and gas demand, as well as global carbon emissions. For analysts that enjoy sensitivity analysis, future energy scenarios, and stress-testing models.

Other inputs include our modelling of wind and solar capacity additions, a long-term oil demand model, gas market models, coal supply forecasts and an increasingly favorable outlook on nuclear.

Annual data are provided back to 1750 to contextualize the energy transition relative to prior transitions in history.

A fully decarbonized energy market is possible by 2050, achieved via game-changing technologies that feature in our research. To stress test different energy supply scenarios, please download our global energy market model.

Oil markets: finding the balance?

oil market supply demand balance

Our oil market supply demand balance is informed by a 45-line model, running month-by-month out to 2025. This download contains both the model, and a 4-page summary of our outlook, from mid-2021.


After ten years forecasting oil markets, our humble conclusion is that all oil models are wrong. Some are nevertheless useful. To be most useful, our model takes a Monte Carlo approach to the key uncertainties, to quantify the “risk” of positive and negative surprises (illustrative example below).

Please download the model to see, and to flex our input assumptions. Included with the download is a PDF summary of our oil price thesis in mid-2021,  which is also available separately, linked here.

Important note. The past 2-3 years have been a nightmare for oil market supply demand balance forecasting. We think there is over 3Mbpd of oil demand pent up still to recover in 2022+ from post-COVID. Also, to state the obvious, if there is a major disruption to Russian oil supplies, then oil markets will be under-supplied. And so we do not think we can currently add value by ‘forecasting’ oil markets at all in 2022. We will re-visit this topic in depth in 2023.

Leading Companies in DAS?

This data-file quantifies the leading companies in Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), the game-changing technology for enhancing shale and conventional oil industry productivity.

For operators (chart above), our rankings are based on assessing patents, technical papers and discussions with industry-participants.

For Services (chart below), our work summarises the companies, the ownership (e.g., public vs private), their offerings, their size and the technical papers they have filed.

Aerial Vehicles Re-Shape Transportation Costs?

This model calculates the costs per passenger-kilometer for transportation, based on mileage, load factors, fuel prices (oil and electricity), fuel-economy, vehicle costs and maintenance costs.

Ground level vehicles are assessed using data from around the industry, on gasoline, electric, owned and taxi vehicles.

Aerial vehicles could compete with taxis as early as 2025. By the 2030s, their costs can be 60% below the level of car ownership.

This model shows all of our input assumptions and calculations.

Oil Companies Drive the Energy Transition?

There is only one way to decarbonise the energy system: leading companies must find economic opportunities in better technologies. No other route can source sufficient capital to re-shape such a vast industry that spends c$2trn per annum. We outline seven game-changing opportunities. Leading energy Majors are already pursuing them in their portfolios, patents and venturing. Others must follow suit.

How could plastic-recycling technology impact oil demand?

We see potential for plastic-recycling technologies to displace 15Mbpd of potential oil demand growth (i.e., naphtha, LPGs and ethane) by 2060, compared to a business-as-usual scenario of demand growth. In a more extreme case, oil demand for conventional plastics could halve. This simple model allows you to vary the input assumptions and derive your own outputs.

Global shipping and the switch from fuel oil?

The 240MTpa shipping-fuels market will be disrupted from 2020, under IMO sulphur regulations. Hence, this data-file breaks down the world’s 100,000-vessel shipping fleet into 13 distinct categories.

Fuel consumption is estimated for each category. Distributions of weight and LNG fuel-equivalence are split for the four largest categories. We see 40-60MTpa upside to LNG demand from 2040, led by cruise-ships and large container-ships.

The data-file also includes helpful background on the marine fuels industry and consensus forecasts for LNG demand growth within it (below).

Why the Thunder Said?

This 8-page report outlines the ‘four goals’ of Thunder Said Energy; and how we hope we can help your process…

Copyright: Thunder Said Energy, 2022.