LONDON (AFP) - Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell unveiled its vision of the world's future energy sources Thursday, suggesting two scenarios where policy either remains with individual countries or is decentralised to allow a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions.
In both cases, Shell envisaged gas and oil prices should reach a "plateau" at around 2015, but the main energy source will be provided by coal, which is "available, cheap" and requires simple technology, the company said.
The company's vice-president, Jeremy Bentham, outlined the possibilities in a report -- "Shell energy scenarios to 2050: an era of revolutionary change" -- to reporters in London Thursday.
The report said energy demands were growing at an unprecedented rate and conventional suppliers will have a job on their hands to keep pace. At the same time, "environmental stresses" are increasing, it added.
Against such a background, Shell outlined two scenarios for policymakers.
The first scenario it envisaged was business continuing as usual and energy policy remaining an issue for individual countries, with fears of slower economic growth dissuading policy-setters from investing in renewable energy sources.
In such circumstances, Shell said energy prices would be highly volatile and investment decisions difficult to predict.
For that reason, Shell said it favoured as a "blueprint" a second scenario: energy policy set by a number of different bodies, such as sub-state regions, municipal authorities, industry and non-government organisations.
Under this scheme, the carbon market will be well-developed, new laws will favour carbon capture schemes, "second generation" biofuel projects, the general public will modify their energy habits and prices will be more stable.
"Both scenarios are plausible," said Bentham.
The next five years are crucial because they "will set the framework for the investments of the next 15 years," Bentham said.