Some Basic Facts

Oil is still no. 1, but renewables are picking up fast - very fast.
This article appeared in Vol. 13, No. 5 - 2016


Global energy consumption grew by only 1.0% in 2015. This is in line with 2014 (1.1%), but considerably slower than over the last decade (1.9%). In spite of this there was a solid growth in the use of oil, gas and renewable energy (solar and wind) - all according to BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

Coal is losing out with a reduction in consumption of 1.8%, and its share of primary energy is reduced to its lowest level since 2005. Coal being the worst polluter, this is good news for global emissions of CO2, and China is leading the way. Over the next five years, coal production will be reduced by 500 million tons a year, according to This means a reduction in CO2 emissions of about 1 billion tons for China alone. The world’s total emissions are 35 billion tons per year.

The growth in the use of renewables is phenomenal. The last 10 years have seen an increase of 15% in every year. The use of renewable energy in power generation grew by 15.2%, only slightly less than the average growth over the previous 10 years of 15.9%. If growth continues at the stunning rate of 15% for the next 20 years, it means that the use of renewables will multiply itself 16 times by 2035. It is also noteworthy that China had an increase in its use of renewables of 20.9%. Worldwide, renewables account for 6.7% of global power generation.

Needless to say, the change in energy mix means a lot for the carbon budget. And we do see the positive results right now: last year global emissions rose by only 0.1%. Less coal and more renewables explain this fact.

Amongst fossil fuels, oil accounted for 32.9% of global energy consumption in 2015, and global oil consumption grew by 1.9 MMbopd. Interestingly, global production grew by 2.8 MMbopd to a total of 91.7 MMbopd. The US remained the world’s largest oil producer with 12.7 MMbopd, some 600 Mbo ahead of Saudi Arabia. For comparison, the US used 19.4 MMbopd out of a world total consumption of 95 MMbopd.

You can spend days analysing the data provided by the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. To me it seems obvious that renewables are to be reckoned with in the (near) future.


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