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Today in Energy

November 6, 2019

EIA projects energy consumption in air transportation to increase through 2050

global jet fuel consumption
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook 2019 (IEO2019), EIA projects global demand for jet fuel to 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). EIA 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.

EIA expects jet fuel consumption to increase at a faster rate than any other liquid transportation fuel through 2050. During this time, global commercial jet fuel use more than doubles 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 the largest source of future jet fuel demand, and China and Southeast Asia represent more than half (59%) of global growth during the IEO2019 projection period. In particular, China’s jet fuel consumption more than triples, from 1.6 quads in 2018 to 6.0 quads in 2050. EIA expects the United States and countries in Europe and the Middle East to also experience considerable growth in jet fuel consumption.

Globally, air freight transport, measured in revenue ton miles, grows at an annual rate of 2.6% during the IEO2019 projection period and reaches 330 billion revenue ton miles in 2050. Much of the increase occurs in China and other Asian countries where growth in certain goods results in increased air freight travel.

freight and passenger air transport demand
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019

Passenger air travel nearly triples during the IEO2019 projection period, from 6 trillion seat miles in 2018 to about 18 trillion seat miles in 2050. 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 lower than the growth in these freight and passenger travel indicators because the global aircraft fleet is expected to become more fuel efficient: overall aircraft fleet efficiency improves by more than 20% between 2018 and 2050. EIA expects air travel energy demand will continue to be met with mostly petroleum-based fuels.

Principal contributor: Steve Hanson