What’s clear from all these scenarios is that global energy demand is rising sharply as the population grows and prosperity increases in developing countries. By 2050, the world’s population could grow to 9 billion people, up from about 7 billion today. That is equivalent to adding another China and India to the planet.
At the same time, the world’s remaining supplies of oil and natural gas are increasingly difficult to find, unlock and produce. Factors include remote environments, complex geologies or even deeper water.
So if we are going to meet rising demand, we are going to need energy from all sources. Undoubtedly some of that energy will come from renewable sources such as the wind and the sun. With a truly exceptional effort, as much as 30% of the world’s energy could come from renewables by 2050. But non-renewable forms of energy will have to make up the rest.
Running concurrently with the need to produce more energy is the equally pressing need to cut carbon dioxide emissions. In fact the world needs to halve carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change. So not only will the world require more energy but also cleaner, low carbon energy.
To meet the rising energy demand in the most socially, environmentally, and economically responsible way, we need to leverage the full power of innovation: the capacity for doing things differently and better than before.
Shell thrives on such challenges – we have been a technology pioneer for more than a century and we continue to find innovative ways to provide the energy people need. In 2013, we spent $1.3 billion on R&D, more than any other international oil and gas company.
But we also know the scale of the energy challenge facing the world means that it cannot be solved by any one company. That is why, across the world, we work in collaboration with governments, other companies and a range of non-governmental organisations. Working together in this way helps to speed up the development of new, lower carbon energy and helps to improve our understanding of the wider context in which we work.