Residential energy consumption refers to household use, which is comprised mostly of heating fuel and home electrical use. As would be expected, the developed, OECD member states will see much slower population growth, and therefore relatively small annual increases of energy consumption. Non-OECD states, particularly in Brazil, India, and China, are expected to grow much more rapidly at a rate sevenfold higher.
However, since the EIA estimates were produced, advances in efficiency, slower economic growth, and relatively high-energy prices have led to a surprising result. Even as the United States emerges from recession, its energy consumption is not
following suit. As a result, while energy consumption is expected to increase over time, the comparison to Asia is even more dramatic. This is reflected in the EIA 2013 outlook that predicts that US energy consumption over the next 30 years will remain flat.
These trends have important implications for the solar industry, including:
• In the United States and Europe, larger homes that consume higher amounts of energy dominate, but use will not grow dramatically.
• Residential solar in the United States and EU will be more heavily focused on driving down electrical costs rather than meeting demand.
• Grid-connected residences in Asia will require new sources of energy and as demand grows, solar electric systems will compete with the cost of building new systems and transmission rather than merely adding more fuel.
• Non-grid connected residences in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia will seek new sources of energy as household incomes rise and the use of wood and other biofuels diminishes.