World Energy Scenarios

Mapping plausible scenarios for the future of world energy

Project Partners: Accenture Strategy & the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) 

World Energy Council Scenarios use innovative collaboration, interactive experiences, rigorous research, and analysis to map out plausible energy futures. The practice of developing and using scenarios emerged as a way to provide an inclusive and strategic framework enabling big picture thinking and deeper assumptions, choices and options. The Council has been developing scenarios for almost two decades.

The scenarios can be used in order to:

  • Exploreplausible pathways for the transition to a low-carbon economy
  • Better understand and prepare for the new threats and opportunities of the global energy transition 
  • Provide a framework to think ‘outside the box’ of existing solutions and policies and to forge new common ground 
  • Explore new opportunities and test key assumptions  
  • Facilitate understanding of the role of business model innovation in energy transition 
  • Encourage deeper insights into energy transitions on national, regional and global levels 
  • Inform strategic decisions, enabling leaders to discover or design solutions to the emerging connected energy challenges

For the 2016 World Energy Congress in Istanbul, the Council launched World Energy Scenarios: The Grand Transition  which recognized the energy system is undergoing fundamental changes, shaped by a shifting global context “The Grand Transition”. 

The report presented three scenarios with a time horizon to 2060 to support the conversation and negotiation on the climate change agenda. The three scenarios are: 

  • Modern Jazz, which represents a ‘digitally disrupted,’ innovative, and market-driven world
  • Unfinished Symphony, a world in which more ‘intelligent’ and sustainable economic growth models emerge as the world drives to a low carbon future
  • Hard Rock, a more fragmented scenario which explores the consequences of weaker and unsustainable economic growth with inward-looking policies 

Each storyline describes a plausible future explores what might happen, not what should happen or what we want to happen. Used as a set, these scenarios provide a useful, pre-decision thinking framework to help energy leaders anticipate possible energy transition pathways.   

In anticipation of the 24th World Energy Congress, the Council has refreshed its global energy foresight and global scenarios narratives. The focus is on a 2040-time horizon, helping to explore a broader, deeper and fast shifting landscape  and to promote a shared and better understanding of the role of disruptive innovation.  

The Council has conducted a comparison study of other external global energy scenarios to test the plausibility, relevance and challenge of its own existing scenarios, and has published the World Energy Insights Brief - Global Energy Scenarios Comparison Review, which compares the methods, narratives and assumptions of global energy future  initiatives, and provides users with a clearer understanding and new insights on energy transition. 

The Council is not only interested in building scenarios but making them useful and usable. Two regionally focussed scenarios to 2040 were launched: the European region and Middle East and Gulf States region with GCC focus. The Council is also developing a sectoral perspective – Nuclear Insights Brief to explore the changing role of nuclear in energy systems in each of the three global scenarios.  

To enable energy leader’s successful use of global scenarios, the Council has embarked on the development of a powerful new concept and application for the Scenarios tool – Constellations of Disruptions (“CoDs”) - which aims to  help energy leaders better understand new patterns of disruptive innovation and secure energetic growth opportunities.  

Tools and publications

Join the World Energy Council

Engage in strategic dialogue with the energy leaders of today and the future, build capabilities and help shape the energy future.