Global Energy Outlook Comparison Methods: 2022 Update
An update to a harmonization methodology previously developed to support the comparison of global energy projections issued by leading international energy agencies.
We update a harmonization methodology developed in 2015 to facilitate comparisons of long-term global energy projections issued by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Equinor, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Shell, and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Decisionmakers in the public and private sectors rely on these projections to inform investments and policy, but apples-to-apples comparison of the outlooks is not possible due to methodological differences. For example, EIA excludes nonmarketed traditional biomass, resulting in estimates of global primary energy consumption that are more than 10 percent lower than other projections. Assumptions about energy content of fossil fuels can vary by more than 11 percent in the data examined, requiring significant adjustment of primary energy consumption estimates. Conventions about primary energy conversion of renewable energy resources can also alter estimates by as much as a 58 percent decrease to a 3.3-fold increase for particular electricity sources, relative to IEA estimates. We also find significant differences in historical data used in these outlooks, even when measured in fuel-specific physical units, such as barrels, cubic meters, or tonnes. Accounting for these differences, our harmonization methodology brings estimates within 3 percent for major fuels in the benchmark year of 2020. We describe the process by which we enhance the comparability of outlooks by adjusting for differences in assumptions such as fuel classifications, energy content, and conversion efficiencies. We present a selection of the harmonized results, benchmarked to the IEA’s 2021 World Energy Outlook. This methodology is used to develop our Global Energy Outlook 2022 report, available at www.rff.org/geo.
Daniel Raimi is a fellow and director of the Equity in the Energy Transition Initiative at RFF where he works on a range of energy policy issues with a focus on tools to enable an equitable energy transition.
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