If one sector in recent decades has been a byword for how difficult it is to anticipate future developments at the global level, it has been the energy sector. We have seen fears over the dangers of a hydrocarbon shortage, the announcement of “peak oil” and a boom in shale gas and oil. Forecasts based on major trends within the field have been revised as non-conventional sources with a substantial impact on price levels have emerged. Added to this is the need to confront climate change and hence to revamp our modes of energy production to give an enhanced role to renewables.
In such a context, as Jean-Marie Chevalier stresses here, it is quite tricky to say how energy prices will develop or how energy production systems will change. This is why, in addition to the overview of possible developments in the prices of oil, natural gas and coal which this article provides, it particularly stresses the many elements of uncertainty that still prevail. Chevalier demonstrates the multiplicity of factors — and actor — involved in the way energy systems and prices develop and highlights the key elements that will play a role in enhancing or curbing those developments in the medium-to-long term.