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The bible for energy data, the BP Statistical Review, was released Wednesday and I continue to make up charts using the fresh news. Today I update Global Energy Use by Source 2009, which shows the contribution to total world energy by source, and without question there are changes here worth a comment. But before getting to the relative mix, let’s briefly review the absolute changes from 2008.

First, total world energy use from all sources fell by 1.1% last year. Given the state of the world economy, that’s no surprise. Though, I should mention, 1.1% is much lower than many had anticipated. Digging back into my data archives, for example, to the time of the Great Depression–when coal was still the primary energy source for the world–I find that in 1931 coal use fell over 11% from 1930. Oil is of course now the world’s primary energy source (though not for much longer) and in 2009 total world oil use fell by 1.7%. Total world use of coal was flat in 2009, by contrast. And in natural gas, total global use fell by 2.1%. Given these absolute falls, let’s now look at the chart of relative use, by source (click to enlarge):

Oil still makes the largest relative contribution to global consumption of energy. However, compared to 2008 (revised), coal increased its global contribution from 29.04% to 29.36%, while oil’s contribution fell from 35.00% to 34.77%. That may look like a small change, until you consider the scale of global energy use and the trend of the past 10 years. It’s also notable that both natural gas and nuclear power lost relative position as well, with nuclear’s contribution now falling even further below hydro power. Fun fact: hydro power has contributed a very steady 5.50-6.50% to global energy supply since 1965.

The most important story from Wednesday’s data release, of course, is that global coal consumption was flat in 2009 as consumption of oil and natural gas fell. Coal remains the big story, and will become an even bigger story as we head to 2015.

Source: Crouching Oil, Hidden Coal