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International Energy Outlook 2021

Release Date: October 6, 2021 Next Release Date: October 2023 IEO Narrative PDF

The Reference case provides a baseline from which to measure the impact of various assumptions

The IEO2021 Reference case reflects current trends and relationships among supply, demand, and prices in the future. It is a baseline case constructed to compare with cases that include alternative assumptions about economic drivers, prices, policy changes, or other determinants of the energy system in order to estimate the potential impact of these assumptions.

The Reference case includes existing laws and regulations, and it reflects legislated energy sector policies that can be reasonably quantified in WEPS. More information on how we model climate policies is available in our companion article, Climate Considerations in the International Energy Outlook (IEO2021).5

The Reference case includes some anticipated changes over time:

  • Expected regional economic and demographic trends, based on the views of leading forecasters
  • Planned or known changes to infrastructure, both for new construction and announced retirements
  • Assumed incremental cost and performance improvements in established technologies based on historical trends

The Reference case does not include some of the following future uncertainties:

  • Changes to national boundaries and international agreements
  • Major disruptive geopolitical or economic events
  • Future technological breakthroughs
  • Anticipated policy changes as reflected in laws, regulations, and stated targets