Global Energy Trends – BP Statistical Review 2015

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 up-dates 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 On the CO2 account, low emissions nuclear power has been replaced by “low emissions” renewable energy (burning biofuel and timber does produce CO2).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.

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14 Responses to Global Energy Trends – BP Statistical Review 2015

  1. Thanks for this. Useful stuff.

  2. Dave Rutledge says:

    Hi Euan,

    I would like to add that the webcast for the BP Statistical Review by Spencer Dale, the BP economist, was terrific.


  3. According to the BP data 32.2% of the electricity the world consumed in 2004 came from generation sources that don’t emit CO2 (nuclear, hydro, wind and solar). In 2014 the number was 31.1%.

    Progress in reverse.

    • JerryC says:

      Meh, all that stuff emits CO2. Just not at the point of generation.

    • William says:

      That might just mean that fossil use is growing faster than non-fossil, not that anything is going in reverse. After all in 2014 it is 31.1% of a bigger total.

      BTW, what is the significance of that image of the trenches in the last graph? I don’t follow it.

      • Willem Post says:

        That likely is trench warfare during WW1, a war fought over access and ownership of natural resources.

        • Aslangeo says:

          In British popular culture – Lions led by Donkeys, Blackadder IV etc Trench warfare is seen as the paradigm of futility – with hundreds of thousands of lives wasted for little or no gain – I think that what Euan was implying by the backdrop was that the renewables switch was a lot of pain for limited gain (apologies if I misunderstood)

        • JerryC says:

          There is actually a caption in the picture – “Past Strategy Failure in Europe”. Maybe it’s hard to ser.

    • Willem Post says:

      Nature does not care about percentages. The IMPACT is what counts.

  4. Dana Gardiner says:

    Dave Rutledge: Thanks for that reference on the video clip.

  5. It doesn't add up... says:

    I’m not too sure whether solar output isn’t over-recorded in those countries that are signed up to all those protocols and targets. In the UK, Feed in Tariffs assume levels of generation that are unmetered. These assumptions appear to be quite generous, as part of the hidden subsidy to small systems. Then of course there is the famous example of Spain, where diesel generators and re-routed grid power were fed through the solar power meters (even at night) to harvest the subsidies.

    It’s worth noting that the BP mtoe figures for non-fossil power generation are converted from TWh by assuming a 38% efficient oil power station as the alternative. That considerably inflates their share by a factor of about 2.5.

  6. It doesn't add up... says:

    I note there have been some very extensive revisions to the past data, going right the way back to 1965 in the CO2 record for example. Some of that appears to be things like energy used in LNG plants to liquefy gas (e.g. a big increase in Qatar’s emissions for recent years) that may not have been counted previously; a substantial upward revision to China’s coal burn history; downward revision of the energy consumption of the Soviet Union in the 1960s/70s – but every country sees revisions to its history. China’s increase in emissions is 0.9% in the latest data, but comparing the 2015 estimate for 2014 with the 2014 estimate for 2013 produces an increase of 2.5% (and 1.2% globally, rather than the quoted 0.5%). Across the entire history, there’s an extra 7.18Gt of emissions, with 7.866 Gt extra from China alone.

    I haven’t yet had time to do a thorough analysis of the underlying changes. For 2013 at the global level primary energy consumption is increased by 76.7 mtoe, comprising oil -5.9 gas +32.4 coal +40.3 nuclear +0.5 hydro +5.8 and renewables +3.7.

  7. These are excellent data that I have used many times, I posted an item in LinkedIn Pulse using it, and will put on my blog for those not on LinkedIn. Let me know if you’re intersted.

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