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China, OPEC and the future of energy

July 26, 2013: 10:00 AM ET

Already guzzling more energy than the United States to feed its power-hungry manufacturing sector, China is expected to use twice as much energy as the United States by 2040.

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This from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest International Energy Outlook, released Thursday.

The central theme, which hasn't changed much in the last several years, is that under current policy, the world will use a lot more energy and emit a lot more greenhouse gases by 2040, mostly thanks to its continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Worldwide energy use is expected to grow 56% by 2040. While renewable and nuclear energy are expected to be the fastest growing sources, fossil fuels will still account for nearly 80% of our energy use by the end of the time period. As such, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise 46%.

"That is going to have to be addressed in some way," EIA Administrator Adam Siemiski said during a press conference.

Most of the increase in energy use and emissions is expected to come from the developing world, and Siemiski noted that a rise in energy use in and of itself isn't a bad thing.

"This is rising prosperity," he said. The question is, "how do we accommodate rising prosperity and still maintain a good energy security and environmental outlook?"

Related: China trounces U.S. in green energy investments

Oil prices are also expected to remain high: $163 a barrel by 2040, in 2011 dollars.

Other highlights from EIA's analysis:

China is expected to embark on a nuclear power plant building binge.

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And these five countries will be a real pain for OPEC, pumping a big chunk of the world's non-OPEC oil supply. That couldĀ put pressure on the cartel to either cut production or accept lower prices:

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About This Author
Steve Hargreaves
Steve Hargreaves
Senior Writer, CNNMoney

Steve Hargreaves is a senior writer covering economic, energy and environmental issues at CNNMoney. Previously, he worked out of Istanbul and Bangkok, and has been published in the Village Voice and the Australian Financial Review. He tweets at @HargreavesCNN

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