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World Can’t Shake Coal Habit

By Robert Rapier on June 17, 2015

Last week BP (NYSE: BP) released its Statistical Review of World Energy 2015. This report contains the most comprehensive global and country-level production and consumption data for all major sources of energy, and is used extensively as an authoritative source for energy statistics.

Over the next few weeks I will cover various aspects of the report, but today I just want to provide a broad overview of the highlights.

Primary energy consumption continues to grow and will be dominated by fossil fuels and nuclear power for many years, but renewables continue to post the highest growth rates by far. In 2014, renewables comprised 2% of primary energy consumption, with hydropower adding another 7%. Nuclear power accounted for 4% of the world’s primary energy consumption, while oil continues to be the world’s leading primary energy source at 33% of overall consumption. Coal is responsible for another 30%, while natural gas makes up 24% of the world’s primary energy consumption.

By far the biggest headline from the report has been the U.S. vaulting into the position of the world’s largest oil producer, from third place in 2013 behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. In 2014 the U.S. produced 11.6 million barrels of crude oil per day (bpd), a gain of 1.6 million bpd from 2013. The 1.1 million bpd gain from 2012 to 2013 was at that time the largest gain in U.S. history, but the 1.6 million bpd gain from 2013 to 2014 has now shattered that record. This marks the first time in history any country has managed to grow its oil consumption by over 1 million bpd for three straight years.  

Global oil production increased by 2.1 million bpd to a new all-time high of 88.7 million bpd. So the U.S. contributed just over 75% of the global production increase. Global consumption of oil increased by 843,000 bpd to a new record of 92.1 million bpd. (Note that BP’s definition of oil includes crude oil, tight oil, oil sands and natural gas liquids, but excludes liquid fuels from other sources such as biomass and derivatives of coal and natural gas. The oil consumption numbers do include fuels derived from biomass, coal, and natural gas and are thus always larger than the production numbers.)

In addition to becoming the world’s top oil producer, the U.S. remained the world’s largest natural gas producer. In 2014 the U.S. produced 70.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas, up from 66.7 Bcf/d produced in 2013. The U.S. extended its lead over Russia, which remains the second-largest producer despite a production decline of 2.5 Bcf/d in 2014.

The major coal headline is that despite previous media reports that coal consumption in China had declined in 2014, the BP report indicates China’s coal consumption increased by 0.1% to a new all-time high of 1.96 billion metric tons of oil equivalent (TOE). China remains by far the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, consuming 50.6% of the world’s total in 2014. Globally, coal consumption rose to an all-time high of 3.9 Btoe, a 0.4% increase over 2013.

Nuclear power consumption showed its second consecutive increase following two years of declines in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. World consumption in 2014 was 2,537 Terawatt-hours (TWh), still well below the 2,767 TWh consumed in 2010 – the year before Fukushima. For the first time since 1965, Japan had zero nuclear power consumption in 2014. The growth in global nuclear power was driven primarily by South Korea, which saw a 17.6 TWh gain over 2013, and China, with a 14.7 TWh increase.

Carbon dioxide emissions set a new all-time record in 2014, but grew at a slower pace than in recent years. The world has now set new records for carbon dioxide emissions in 19 of the past 20 years. The only exception took place during the financial crisis in 2008-09 when emissions registered a year-over-year decline, but then the following year saw the strongest growth in emissions in the past decade.

Renewables continued their strong growth rate of recent years, with solar power once more leading the pack. The world’s solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity grew  28.7% in 2014 to bring the total installed capacity to 180.4 gigawatts (GW). Wind power remains the #1 non-hydropower source of renewable power with 373 GW of installed capacity, a 16.2% increase from 2013. Global geothermal capacity advanced 5.7% to 12.6 GW of installed capacity. Biofuel production increased by 7.4% to 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (MBOE)/day.

Over the course of the next few issues, I plan to take a deeper dive into each of the major energy categories. My intent, as always, is to provide insights that are missing from mainstream media reports on the BP Statistical Review. We tend to talk a lot about oil here, so I plan to focus next week on global renewable energy production and consumption patterns.

(Follow Robert Rapier on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.)

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