ExxonMobil, the biggest investor-owned energy company in the world, released its annual outlook Tuesday in which it shared its outlook for energy supply and demand through 2040.
Exxon predicts oil will continue to be the most important source of energy, but natural gas will overtake coal as the second most important. That's because cars, trucks, airplanes, trains and ships will still depend heavily on oil-derived fuels such as gasoline and diesel. The reason: those fuels pack a lot of energy into a small space, making them perfect for moving around.
William Colton, Exxon's Vice President for Corporate Strategic Planning, noted that it would take 20,000 D-batteries to supply the amount of energy in one tank of gasoline. Still, Exxon predicts there will be some slow global shifts in how we get from here to there.
Here are some of Exxon's transportation predictions:
— Demand for transportation fuel will stay flat in Europe and decline in North America, but it will grow dramatically in the rest of the world.
— Demand for fuels for heavy trucks will grow sharply, and demand for fuel for boats, planes and trains will grow steadily through 2040. Demand for fuel for passenger cars will begin to decline after 2020 because cars will be much more fuel-efficient.
— Average fuel economy of passenger cars will go from 27 miles per gallon to 47 as cars get smaller and lighter and are powered with more efficient engines that use more electricity.
— Hybrids will command more than half the world's passenger car market by 2040 and conventional gasoline vehicles will make up about one-third of the market. Electric vehicle sales will grow quickly between 2025 and 2040, but still represent a small slice of the overall market. Drivers won't adopt natural gas vehicles in a major way.