DETROIT (AP) - Energy ministers from the Group of Eight nations plan to discuss the need for a stable, secure and environmentally friendly energy supply during the second day of an energy summit.
The summit, which started Thursday and ends Friday, is the first G-8 gathering to focus on energy since a Moscow meeting in 1998. The countries participating are the United States, Canada, Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and France.
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (news - web sites) told delegates Thursday that the world's energy challenges will become more acute over the next 20 years as countries face increased demand and try to balance energy growth with environmental protection.
All eight countries face similar energy challenges, including demand, growth and inadequate infrastructure for future needs, Abraham said during a luncheon policy address.
In the United States alone, it's estimated that by 2020, oil consumption will increase by 33 percent, natural gas consumption by more than 50 percent and electricity demand by 45 percent, Abraham said. The infrastructure to handle the increased use doesn't exist, he said.
For example, to accommodate the projected increase in electricity demand, more than one power plant per week will have to be built, he said.
Abraham also said that over the next two decades, world oil consumption is projected to increase from about 75 million barrels per day in 1999 to roughly 120 million barrels per day in 2020.
Abraham spoke several times about how the effect of new technologies and increased energy use must be weighed against environmental concerns.
During a news conference, he announced that his department will host an International Conference on the Future of Energy Transportation Technologies in Detroit this fall.
The conference will allow international discussion of advanced transportation technologies that solve environmental problems, such as the development of hydrogen as a primary fuel for vehicles, Abraham said.
Gary Skulnik, a Greenpeace spokesman, said it's not enough to merely talk about cleaner vehicles.
"We need to show real commitment by investing resources now," Skulnik said. "The future's here. ... There are hybrids on the road."
Abraham and others at the conference stressed that the G-8 countries must work together to solve energy problems. Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said a shared energy policy is important.
"Maybe the most important commodity of all for powering the world economy is confidence," Yergin said. "I would argue that confidence is more likely to endure if it is anchored, if it is tempered."
Abraham said putting a greater emphasis on energy security and opening up and expanding energy trade and investment are ways nations can cooperate.
"Free trade and liberalized government policies for private investment will be essential to meet growing worldwide demand for energy," said the former U.S. senator from Michigan.
Abraham also said finding new and diversified sources of oil and natural gas depends on resource development emphasizing open and competitive arrangements that allow more private sector participation.
In his policy address, Abraham talked briefly about ITER, an international group whose aim is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy for peaceful purposes.
Abraham said Bush has asked Abraham's department to "seriously consider" American participation in ITER.
In a speech following Abraham's, Herb Dhaliwal, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, said he was pleased to hear that the United States is interested in ITER.
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