Global Energy Trends - BP Statistical Review 2015

by: Euan Mearns

The BP Statistical review of World Energy was published on Wednesday 10th June. Last year I published a short post summarising Global Energy Trends and this post updates those charts with the newly published data for 2014.

  • Global primary energy consumption continues to grow though there are signs the rate of growth may be slowing, especially for fossil fuels (FF) (Figure 1). I suspect this may be due to a combination of high energy prices (that persisted through much of 2014) and the end of double digit growth in China.
  • Consumption of every fuel type grew in 2104, including nuclear.
  • In 2014, FF accounted for 86% of total energy consumption compared with 88% in 2004 (Figure 3). There is still a long way to go to end our reliance on FF. Much of the substitution comes from biomass and biofuel. Burning living plants instead of dead ones (FF) will probably have a net negative impact on Earth ecosystems.
  • In 2004, new renewables (wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels etc) accounted for 0.87% of total primary energy and by 2014 this had grown to 2.98%. In 2004, nuclear power accounted for 5.91% and this has fallen to 4.42% in 2014. The 2.1% growth in share of new renewables is largely offset by the 1.49% fall in the share of nuclear power. On the CO2 account, low emissions nuclear power has been replaced by "low emissions" renewable energy (burning biofuel and timber does produce CO2). The actual energy substitutions are a little more complex.
  • The most significant statistic I've spotted in the new BP report is the 2.6% fall in Chinese coal production. Coal consumption is unchanged from 2013 hence China is importing more coal. China produces just under half of global coal from underground mines that are often remote from market and there has long been speculation about how long they could maintain production growth. This may be a sign that the coal era is turning in China.

Figure 1 Global FF consumption expressed in million tonnes of oil equivalent. Note how growth in oil+gas+coal is slowing. The new renewables, despite exponential growth in recent years, remain largely insignificant at less than 3% of the global total. Growth in biomass and biofuel consumption is not sustainable. Solar is likely to be under represented since domestic roof top installations are probably not included. Click all charts to obtain a large version that opens in a new browser window.

Figure 2 Same data as Figure 1 normalised to 100%. The FF share of the global total has barely changed in 25 years. Growth in renewables is largely at the expense of nuclear power.

Figure 3 Fossil fuels represent 86% of all energy consumed in 2014, down 1% from the previous year.

Figure 4 Global CO2 emissions continue their relentless rise despite the best efforts of Europe that showed a decline of 5% last year. There is perhaps a sign of global CO2 flattening out, but I'm rather suspicious since the CO2 emissions reported by BP in 2015 have been substantially revised from the 2014 report.