BP’s Energy Outlook for 2019 considers a range of scenarios to explore different aspects of the energy transition over the period to 2040. The scenarios have some common features, such as ongoing economic growth and a shift towards a lower carbon fuel mix, but differ in terms of policy, technology or behavioural assumptions. However, BP focuses mostly on the Evolving Transition (ET) scenario, which assumes that government policies, technology and social preferences continue to evolve in a manner and speed seen over the recent past.
Nuclear and hydro power generation continue to grow, although less rapidly than overall power generation, such that their shares within overall power generation decline. Nuclear power in the ET scenario grows at an average rate of 1.1% a year, broadly in line with the growth seen over the past 20 years or so.
BP says the continuing growth in nuclear power “disguises two contrasting patterns”. Nuclear energy within the OECD declines materially as ageing nuclear plants are decommissioned and there is limited investment in new capacity. In contrast, nuclear generation in China increases strongly, rising by 1000 TWh over the period, with the level of nuclear generation in China by 2040 similar to that in the entire OECD.
BP says comparing the ET scenario with the same scenario in last year’s Energy Outlook, overall energy demand has been revised down only very slightly, less than 1% in 2040, but this masks larger revisions across different fuels, regions and sectors. By fuel, the largest revision was an increase in renewable energy, up 9% in 2040. This was offset by downward revisions to coal and nuclear – in part as renewables gained share relative to these fuels in the power sector – and to oil.