Global fundamentals

Energy is essential for human progress. Economic expansion and improving access to energy enable longer, more productive lives for the growing global population.


Billion people

Image Population

Energy per capita

Million Btu

Image Energy per capita

Energy demand growth 2021-2050

Primary energy – Quadrillion Btu

Image Energy demand growth 2021-2050
  • Global population grows to 9.7 billion in 2050 from 7.8 billion today.
  • 65% of this growth is in Africa and the Middle East, over 25% in Asia Pacific, and only around 3%  in OECD countries.
  • Efficiency gains reduce energy use per capita in the developed world whereas the developing world increases its energy per capita in pursuit of higher living standards.
  • Global demand is expected to rise 15% by 2050 as developing nations add five times what is reduced by developed countries.

World GDP more than doubles

Trillions of 2015$

Image World GDP more than doubles

GDP growth 2021-2050

Trillions of 2015$
Image GDP growth 2021-2050
1 CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate
  • Economic expansion is a key driver of energy demand.  The world economy contracted in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, then recovered in 2021 to the pre-COVID level. It is now facing significant uncertainties because of high inflation and rising global tension.
  • World GDP is projected to more than double from 2021 to 2050, with developing nations growing at more than twice the rate of developed countries.
  • By 2050, developing countries will account for almost 55% of global GDP, up from about 40% today. China’s growth from 2021 to 2050 is similar to the growth of the entire developed world.
  • The widespread economic expansion among developing nations suggests continued robust energy demand in these economies.

Purchasing power per person

Thousands of purchasing power parity (PPP) of 2017$
Image Purchasing power per person
  • Access to energy enables economic progress and improves quality of life. As income grows, it enables families to own homes, purchase labor-saving appliances, pursue education, travel, and obtain needed medical treatment.
  • As GDP grows faster than population around the globe, average personal incomes rise everywhere, with significant country and regional variations.
  • By 2050, China GDP per capita is expected to more than triple to reach about 75% of all developed nations at that time.
  • India's per capita GDP is likely to grow even faster than China’s. It will remain below the global average by 2050.
  • Africa per capita GDP is expected to add about 45%. Yet in 2050, it is still at around 10% of the average of developed countries.

Global middle class nearly doubles

Billion people
Image Global middle class nearly doubles

Source: Brookings Institution

  • Even though the average income in developing countries remains lower, there is already a burgeoning middle class that can afford more than the basic necessities of food and shelter. 
  • Despite the recent impact from COVID, the Brookings Institution foresees continued rapid growth of the global middle class, with billions more people rising out of poverty by 2030.
  • Asia Pacific represents the largest growth, with India and China each expected to have more than 1 billion middle-class citizens by 2030.
  • The expanding middle class means billions of people will aim to improve their living conditions. Access to energy is a critical enabler for these aspirations.

Related content

Energy supply

Energy supply

Energy – in all its forms – enables growth and prosperity. As economies grow, as technology advances, as consumers become more environmentally aware, and as policies adapt, global energy demand will evolve to meet changing needs.



Providing reliable, affordable energy to support prosperity and enhance living standards is coupled with the need to do so in ways that reduce impacts on the environment, including the risks of climate change.

Energy demand: Three drivers

Energy demand: Three drivers

Policy. Technology. Consumer preferences. All three affect how the world uses energy. Each driver influences the others. The interplay varies depending on local circumstances (available resources, public support) and can change over time. At ExxonMobil, we’re continually studying energy demand and developing models that measure its potential impact — all in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the interconnectivity of the global energy system.

Build your own report