Energy Policy, Vol.112, 349-360, 2018
The effect of additive manufacturing on global energy demand: An assessment using a bottom-up approach
The effect of disruptive technologies unrelated to the energy sector, such as additive manufacturing (AM), tends to be overlooked in energy scenarios. The present research assessed the potential effect of AM on the global energy demand in four energy scenarios for 2050 with extended versus limited globalisation and limited versus extensive adoption of AM. These scenarios were developed and applied for two cases, namely the aerospace sector and the construction sector, analysing the effect of AM on each phase in the value chain. In the aerospace sector, energy savings of 5-25% can be made, with the largest effect in the use phase because of weight reduction. In the construction sector, energy savings of 4-21% are achievable, with the largest effects in the feedstock, transport and use phases. Extrapolated to the global energy demand in 2050, a reduction of 26-138 EJ/yr, equivalent to 5-27% of global demand is achievable. It is recommended that energy policymakers should consider integrating AM and other disruptive technologies, such as robotics and the Internet of Things, into their long-term energy planning, policies and programmes, including Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement on climate change.