The World Energy Outlook (WEO) is the world’s most authoritative source of energy-market analysis and projections. Published every year, based on objective data and dispassionate analysis, it provides critical analysis and insights on trends in energy demand and supply, and what they mean for energy security, environmental protection and economic development.
The WEO is produced by the Energy Demand Outlooks Division, under Laura Cozzi, and the Energy Supply Outlooks Division, under Tim Gould, in the IEA’s Directorate of Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks (STO), with contributions from across the Agency. Each publication undergoes an extensive peer review process by leading international experts in the relevant fields from governments, industry, research institutions and other organisations. The WEO team, pictured below, includes economists, modellers, engineers and research analysts from a variety of countries.
The first WEO was published in 1977 and it has been an annual publication since 1998. The detailed projections are generated by the World Energy Model, a large-scale simulation tool, developed at the IEA over a period of more than 20 years that is designed to replicate how energy markets function. It covers the whole energy system, allowing for a range of analytical perspectives from global aggregates to elements of detail, such as the prospects for a particular technology or the outlook for end-user prices in a specific country or region.
There is no single story about the future of global energy and no long-term IEA forecast for the energy sector. The WEO uses a scenario-based approach to highlight the key choices, consequences and contingencies that lie ahead, and to illustrate how the course of the energy system might be affected by changing some of the key variables, chief among them the energy policies adopted by governments around the world.
Up until 2010, the structure tended to focus on a Reference Scenario, in which policy assumptions were fixed at the present day, with no account taken of announced intentions or targets. This was often accompanied by an alternative scenario to examine the impact of different policy choices to address a specific energy security or environmental issue.
In 2010, the main focus shifted to the New Policies Scenario, whichincorporates existing energy policies as well as an assessment of the results likely to stem from the implementation of announced policy intentions (and the old Reference Scenario moved to the background, becoming the Current Policies Scenario).
The 450 Scenario made its first appearance in 2010 as a pathway to limiting climate change to below 2 degrees Celsius, cementing the position of climate and other environmental issues at the heart of the analysis and becoming the global benchmark for climate trajectories. Since then, scenarios have addressed a range of other uncertainties over prices and the deployment of specific technologies.
In WEO-2017, we introduced the Sustainable Development Scenario, which examines what it would take to achieve the main energy-related components of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” adopted in 2015 by member states of the United Nations. The three goals are: to achieve universal energy access to modern energy by 2030; to take urgent action to combat climate change; and to reduce dramatically the pollutant emissions that cause poor air quality.
The geographical reach of the analysis has expanded considerably. Since 2005, this has involved an annual in-depth country or regional focus, starting that year with the Middle East and North Africa, and since then including China and India (2007), Russia (2011), Iraq (2012), Brazil (2013), Sub-Saharan Africa (2014), India (2015) and Mexico (2016). Underlining the importance of Asia to the future of global energy, in 2017 the geographic focus again turns to China, ten years after the 2007 analysis.
The thematic reach of the analysis has also grown. The annual ‘fuel focus’ was added in 2008 and has since covered all the major fuels and technologies, including energy efficiency. Access to modern energy has become a signature issue, with systematic monitoring of the numbers of the global population without basic energy services, together with analysis of the policies, technologies and investment required to close this gap. The Outlook has likewise taken a lead in highlighting and quantifying fossil-fuel consumption subsidies, and the links between energy and international competitiveness, air pollution and water use.
Finally, the WEO has evolved to include the regular appearance of separate special reports alongside the main Outlook. The first of these, in 2011, asked the question “Are we entering a Golden Age of Gas?”: the WEO-2017 series includes two special reports: a regional outlook for Southeast Asia and in-depth analysis of the prospects for universal access to modern energy by 2030.
The WEO Team
From the left to the right (back row): Simon Bennett, Livia Gallarati, Peter Zeniewski, Glenn Sondak, Andraes Schroeder, Pawel Olejarnik, Wataru Matsumura, Arthur Contejean; (middle row): Kieran McNamara, Molly Walton, Christophe McGlade, Davide D’Ambrosio, Timothy Goodson, Brent Wanner, Michael Waldron, Michela Cappannelli, Tae-Yoon Kim, Wilfred Yu, Apostolos Petropoulos, Jianguo Liu, Leonie Staas, Connor Donovan; (front row): Teresa Coon, Marcela Ruiz De Chavez Velez, Lucila Arboleya Sarazola, Claudia Pavarini, Alberto Toril, Laura Cozzi, Tim Gould, Stéphanie Bouckaert, Yasmine Arsalane, Zakia Adam, Yoko Nobuoka, Amrita Dasgupta, Marina Dos Santos, Eleni Tsoukala
The IEA's Directorate of Sustainability, Technology and Outlooks (STO), with contributions from other IEA divisions, and consultation with member governments, international organizations and energy companies, is responsible for producing the World Energy Outlook.The WEO team includes economists, modellers, engineers, research analysts and support staff from a variety of countries.
Contact the WEO Team
Tel: +33 (0) 1 40 57 66 70
Fax: +33 (0) 1 40 57 65 09
Our work on WEO
- Executive Director meets Danish Crown Prince and Energy Minister
8 October 2019
- IEA hosts leading global meeting on energy analysis and modelling
3 June 2019
- IEA hosts high-level meeting on Africa’s energy outlook
18 April 2019