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EIA projects air transport energy consumption to increase through 2050

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) global demand for jet fuel will continue increasing through 2050, with consumption growing at a faster rate in countries that are not members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It expects jet fuel consumption to increase the most in China and other Asian non-OECD countries, driven by greater demand for freight air transport and passenger air travel.

The EIA’s
International Energy Outlook 2019 (IEO2019) expects jet fuel consumption will increase at a faster rate than any other liquid transportation fuel through 2050. During this time, global commercial jet fuel use is forecast to more than double from 13 quadrillion British thermal units (quads) in 2018 to 29 quads in 2050. More than half of the growth occurs in non-OECD countries, whose collective consumption of jet fuel surpasses OECD countries’ jet fuel consumption by 2040.

Countries in Asia are forecast to be the largest source of future jet fuel demand, with China and Southeast Asia representing more than half (59%) of global growth during the
IEO2019 projection period. In particular, China’s jet fuel consumption is expected to more than triple, from 1.6 quads in 2018 to 6 quads in 2050. The EIA expects the US and countries in Europe and the Middle East to also experience considerable growth in jet fuel consumption.

Globally, air freight transport, measured in revenue tonne miles, is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 2.6% during the report’s projection period, reaching 330bn revenue tonne miles in 2050. Much of the increase will occur in China and other Asian countries, where growth in certain goods is expected to lead to increased air freight travel.

Passenger air travel is predicted to nearly triple during the period, from 6tn seat miles in 2018 to about 18tn seat miles in 2050. The EIA expects that a growing global middle class will travel more both domestically and internationally as household incomes rise. In particular, projected Asian jet fuel consumption grows faster than in any other world region, increasing to more than 40% of global commercial jet fuel use in 2050.

Growth in jet fuel consumption is expected to be lower than the growth in these freight and passenger travel indicators because the global aircraft fleet is expected to become more fuel efficient, with overall aircraft fleet efficiency forecast to improve by more than 20% between 2018 and 2050. The EIA expects air travel energy demand will continue to be met with mostly petroleum-based fuels.


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