Future market outlined

Global electricity demand could triple in less than a quarter century while spending worldwide on new generation may be as high as $3 trillion. The main drivers behind this acceleration will be a 50% increase in world population, and a 100% jump in world income by 2020. These conclusions are contained in a new report, "Energy 2020," by PowerGen, the UK utility giant.

Electricity demand will increase more than global energy demand, though this may double. The trends towards privatisation and deregulation will accelerate, says the report. Two main successful corporate models will emerge -- the large integrated global energy player and the smaller flexible niche player.

Also by 2020, the economies of Asia may overtake those in Europe, traditionally some of the largest users of electricity. "The energy gap between the developed and developing countries -- the difference in energy consumption per person -- looks set to close in the first two decades of the 21st century," states Energy 2020. "This could lead to a new order of super users, with the traditionally heavy energy consumers of Europe, including the UK and Germany, being overtaken by Asian countries." Although the US will still consume far more electricity per head than any other country, six of the countries that are expected to be top energy users -- China, India, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia -- are in Asia.

"To meet demand, there will be an increase in the number of independent power projects driven by international consortia to develop, finance, build, own and operate power stations," continued the report. It also says the electricity and financial markets will probably converge so power companies can operate despite the uncertainty of electricity price fluctuations. It anticipates that the power market, with trading of options, will develop to the point that it is ten to 20 times the size of physical production in a quarter century.

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