Guest essay by Philip Lloyd, Energy Institute, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
The annual Review has just been published. The data is readily downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet. A few minutes work soon gives an excellent idea of the trends in the world’s energy. The changes since 1965 in the consumption of the primary energy sources, in millions of tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), are:
Global consumption continues to increase. A linear model suggest an annual growth of 176±7 Mtoe over the full period, although in this century it has been growing far faster, 265±18Mtoe annually. Much of this acceleration in growth has come from the use of coal, but that has slowed in recent years with the downturn in the Chinese economy.
Those who are concerned about our fossil fuel use will be gratified to know that we are getting a little less of our energy from fossils:
The Kyoto Protocol seemed to have the effect of increasing our fossil consumption. It took the economic catastrophe of 2008 to have any impact, and the relative consumption is now falling.
Some would point to the growth in renewable energy supplies, and indeed renewables are no longer completely insignificant. If we look at electrical generation rather than primary energy, then today nuclear yields about 2 500TWh annually, hydropower about 4 000TWh and renewables about 1500TWh:
Nuclear has started to grow slowly; hydropower is growing steadily at about 90TWh per annum; and renewable are growing exponentially – the past year added over 200TWh to renewable generation. This growth comes primarily from wind power:
although solar photovoltaics have started to grow rapidly.
The BP Review permits a review of the efficiency of wind and solar power, because it gives both the installed capacity and the energy generated. The global capacity factor for solar PV was below 10% but has risen to about 12% in recent years. The capacity factor for wind has been growing steadily and is now about 22%:
The annual BP Statistical Review is a rich resource indeed, and my mining has only just scratched the surface. For those having ambitions to control temperature rises by reducing fossil fuel consumption, it gives cold comfort – fossil fuel use is still growing at over 150Mtoe per annum and will make up more than 80% of global energy for quite a few years yet. “Decarbonisation” is the stuff of dreams.
The full report is available here: http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html