BP has published its Statistical Review of World Energy for the year 2018. The study is a yearly aggregation of total global primary energy use. It is the largest such study done every year, comparing energy use across countries by fuel type and end-use. It shows that 2018 saw a 2.9% increase in global primary energy consumption. This rate is double its ten-year average, at its highest since 2010, and occurred despite modest GDP growth and higher energy prices. Worryingly, one reason for this is that 2018 saw more days with extreme heating or cooling demands.
By fuel, natural gas contributed the greatest share of consumption growth – at nearly 45% of the increase. All fuels other than renewables grew at rates faster than their ten-year averages. However, renewables still represented the second biggest contribution. Across countries, China, the United States, and India collectively accounted for more than two thirds of overall energy growth. Carbon emissions rose 2%. This is the fastest growth in seven years, and its associated tonnage of 0.6 Gt CO2e is equivalent to increasing the number of cars on the road by a third.
The power sector plays an important role in global decarbonisation: it is the single largest source of emissions. Demand from it rose 3.7% in 2018, with renewables supplying a third of the increase. China alone accounted for 45% of the growth in renewable power generation. This is more than the growth in renewable power generation seen in the entire OECD. Despite this performance, the global fuel mix within power generation has not changed. Fossil fuels still provide 64% of all power generation, with coal retaining its 38% share. Their continued significance highlights that energy transitions that focus on increasing electrification must also incorporate decarbonisation of power generation to achieve emissions reductions.
The Statistical Review of World Energy is one of two yearly publications BP produces, the other being its World Energy Outlook. The World Energy Outlook is a long-term forecast for energy, considering macroeconomic and political trends. The Statistical Review instead situates real energy data in world affairs. The 2019 publication shows that while concern for sustainability is rising, so are energy use and carbon emissions.
Nick Fedson MEng MSc
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