One of the leading authorities on world energy needs, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol, said a recent survey of the world’s 800 biggest oil fields had revealed they were depleting faster than had been thought. However, Dr Birol stressed, oil was destined to remain the world’s most important energy source for several more decades.
He also claimed the era of cheap oil was over, despite volatility in the market that has seen the oil price reach the lowest level since 2005.
Presenting the findings of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2008 at a meeting in Government Buildings, Dr Birol said existing consumption patterns of oil and coal were unsustainable.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the future of human prosperity depends on how we tackle the two energy challenges facing us: the need for a secure and affordable energy supply and a rapid transformation to low-carbon energy,” he said.
He expressed concern the global economic crisis could impact negatively on investment needed to guarantee future energy needs.
Energy Minister Eamon Ryan said he was heartened that the IEA had laid out clearly the actions needed to be taken by governments around the world.
The Government has set a target of generating 40% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.