Global Primary Energy Consumption Grew By Only 1% In 2015, According To BP

Global primary energy consumption in 2015 increased by only 1%, according to new figures released in BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

One of the world’s seven supermajor oil and gas companies, BP, has released the 65th edition its Statistical Review of World Energy, in which it sets out and analyzes energy data for 2015, confirming many assumptions regarding the long-term trends in both the global demand and supply of energy. Specifically, global energy consumption slowed further, with global primary energy consumption increasing by only 1%, after increasing by only 1.1% in 2014, well below the 10-year average of 1.9%, and representing the lowest global growth since 1998 (not including 2009’s recession year).

BP-4Additionally, the supply of energy is continuing to trend toward lower-carbon fuels, as we have known was happening for some time now, with renewables growing to now account for 3% of global energy consumption, and coal consumption dropped in the largest percentage decline on record.

“As this edition of the Stats Review clearly demonstrates, the world of energy is again going through a period of profound change,” said Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive, speaking at the launch of the report Wednesday. “But this is nothing new for our industry; over the past 65 years the Review has revealed continual change in the global energy landscape. Our task as an industry is to take the steps necessary to ensure our resilience in the near term, while continuing to invest to meet the energy needs of the future.”

In line with the general sluggishness in the world’s fossil fuel industry of late, all fossil fuel prices fell across all regions during 2015. Crude oil prices recorded the largest decline on record in dollar terms, averaging $52.39 per barrel in 2015, a decline of $46.56 per barrel from the 2014 level, and the lowest annual average since 2004. Despite a temporary increase in crude oil prices in early 2015 as global consumption rebounded and US production began to register month-on-month declines, strong growth in OPEC production caused prices to fall dramatically in the latter part of the year.

Global coal consumption fell by 1.8% in 2015, well below the 10-year average annual growth of 2.1%, and the largest percentage and volumetric decline found in BP’s data set. Global coal production also fell, by 4%, with massive declines in the US (10.4%), Indonesia (14.4%), and China (2%).

Global renewable energy power generation grew by 15.2%, or around 213 TWh, in 2015, a growth which is roughly equivalent to all of the increase in global power generation for the year, and accounted for 6.7% of global power generation — up from 2% a decade ago. China and Germany recorded the largest increases in renewables in power generation, up 20.9% and 23.5% respectively.

Wind energy remains the largest source of renewable electricity worldwide, increasing 17.4% to account for 52.2% of global renewable generation. Solar power generation grew by 32.6%, while global biofuels production increased by 0.9%, well below the 10-year average of 14.3%.

A full list of highlights from the report, access to the report, and other information, can be found here

Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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Freddy D
Freddy D
7 years ago

This report, like many, fails on units of measure consistency, using in one place “barrels of oil equivalent” and another TWh. Fact is that one new TWh of rebewable generation displaces over 2TWh of “barrels of oil equivalent” because they’re measuring energy *input” into the fossil plants and energy *output* from renewable. And fossil plants are perhaps 50% efficient.

Just wait til transport electrification when we go from 18% efficient ICEs to 85% efficient EVs.

jdeely
jdeely
7 years ago

This is the key point –

“Global coal consumption fell by 1.8% in 2015, well below the 10-year average annual growth of 2.1%, and the largest percentage and volumetric decline found in BP’s data set. Global coal production also fell, by 4%, with massive declines in the US (10.4%), Indonesia (14.4%), and China (2%).”

JamesWimberley
JamesWimberley
7 years ago

Since renewables accounted for 1.0% of the overall growth, that leaves only 0.8% for fossil fuels (assuming nuclear and hydro stayed about the same). The IEA are giving an absolute fall in industrial emissions in 2015, which is inconsistent with BP’s numbers. Differences in data sources and methods (say over stocks) could account for this; also cement-making, which emits CO2 independently of fuel burn. The takeaway is that BP are confirming a trend to near-zero change in fossil fuels. 2016 will be another very good year for wind and solar deployment (>100 GW of generating capacity), which means further falls in fossil fuels.

As Freddy D points out, primary energy is a dud metric in an energy transition. Renewables are by convention treated as 100% efficient – fair enough, since their “waste” costs nothing and is harmless. Electric vehicles are ca. 80% efficient, against 20% or so for ICEVs. Switching to both renewable electricity and evs will cut primary energy consumption in half (see Jacobson), with no change in lifestyle or “energy services”. This useful term from LLNL refers to the useful work energy performs for us in heating, cooling. lighting, running electronics, and turning motor shafts.

FruityPimpernel
FruityPimpernel
Reply to  JamesWimberley
7 years ago

“Switching to both renewable electricity and evs will cut primary energy consumption in half (see Jacobson), with no change in lifestyle or “energy services”.”

An observation that, if true, bears wide broadcasting and extensive repetition.

The charts we see above of primary energy consumption look so depressing when you look at the contribution of renewables within them. The visual story they tell is that renewables are mere pissing in the wind and that the overall transition away from fossil power will be glacially slow.

A graph fashioned from solid data showing how much primary energy renewables have already cut the need for and the future trends for this process as renewable buildout continues would help tell an important story.

It would help illustrate that renewables are making greater inroads than at first appears because of the ‘negawatts’ they ‘generate’ in doing away with the wasted thermal energy that goes with powering our cars, trucks, power stations etc.

Such visualisations would also offer alternative perspectives on all those predictable ‘lights going out because renewables’ scare stories.

I wonder, are there such data and such visualisations anywhere?

FruityPimpernel
FruityPimpernel
Reply to  FruityPimpernel
7 years ago

Another thought –

Primary energy charts from the likes of BP above also subtly infer this narrative: that we will always need oil and coal and gas, that energy demand grows inexorably and that “well, frankly we need fossil energy, lots of it, more of it, always will. Just look at the historic trends, then look at the emerging economies’ future needs etc so get real you naive treehuggers…”

It would be an interesting thought experiment to turn this upside down – to be able to propose an alternative perspective: “look how energy inefficient we used to be and still are, look how renewables and energy efficiency programmes are changing that, look how quickly renewables will shrink / are shrinking the primary energy pie (and removing dirty air with it) etc so better start planning for this future you pollution hogs”.

I prefer the second narrative. Sound data and insightful data storytelling that do justice to that would be a welcome way to subtly but profoundly reframe the debate.

Bob_Wallace
Bob_Wallace
Reply to  FruityPimpernel
7 years ago

Great thinking. Your ideas have been forwarded to Zach to see if he can turn it into an article.

For those who may not realize how much difference there is between the primary energy we use and how much is lost as waste heat I’ll post the chart for the US. All the light grey/gray stuff is energy we pay for but throw away.

As we move to renewables we have to replace only the dark grey part. Less than half of our “primary energy” use.

.

Freddy D
Freddy D
Reply to  Bob_Wallace
7 years ago

An opportunity to, yet again, position the energy transformation as a win win win. Win for the economy, win for the environment, win for political stability, win for reducing unnecessary waste.

Some good headlines could come out of that.

Frank
Frank
Reply to  Bob_Wallace
7 years ago

It compares inputs to outputs.

If you compare a 30% efficient coal plant to a 30% efficient solar thermal plant, and you put 100 btu’s of coal into the first, and 100 btu’s of sunshine into the second, you will end up with 100 btu primary energy for coal, and 30 btu primary energy for the solar in spite of the fact that you put the same amount of energy in and got the same amount of electricity out.

Bob_Wallace
Bob_Wallace
Reply to  Frank
7 years ago

We don’t buy sunshine. We buy coal.

FruityPimpernel
FruityPimpernel
Reply to  Bob_Wallace
7 years ago

Such an informative chart. I wonder if there is a chart showing the efficiency rankings by fuel source (coal, wind, oil, gas, solar) – showing percentage share of energy services provided v percentage wasted. Would be great to see some visualisations

neroden
neroden
Reply to  Bob_Wallace
7 years ago

The Lawrence Livermore Labs graph really makes it clear how much energy is *wasted* in transportation. And also in electricity generation.

Industrial waste levels of 20% seem reasonable.
Commercial waste levels of 35% seem plausible considering known wasteful behaviors of stores (lights on at night, A/C and heating blowing through open doors).
Residential waste levers are nearly as bad at 35% presumably due to terrible insulation.

Electricity generation is wasting 67% of the primary energy, because thermal engines suck and we need to stop using them.

And transportation somehow wastes 79% of the primary energy, because small internal combustion engines suck EVEN WORSE.

It’s also clear that electric cars are going to completely destroy the petroleum industry. 71% of petroleum is being used for transportation, and 80% of that is being wasted. Wow.

Bob_Wallace
Bob_Wallace
Reply to  neroden
7 years ago

We should have a good idea as to whether the Hyperloop is going to work by the end of this year. The first mile of track should be functional. Not enough to reach full speed, but enough to test the basic concept.

If things work out for the ‘loop then air travel is going to take a nosedive. More hurt for the petroleum industry.

Peter Moss
Peter Moss
Reply to  neroden
7 years ago

Thermal engines are simply not efficient devices. They are limited by the Carnot efficiency limit. However, we can do better. CCGT natural gas fueled power plants are up to about 50% (or possibly more) thermal efficiency. And, nuclear power plants using the Brayton cycle (gas turbine) will also be able to do better than 50% thermal efficiency.

Modified Rankine super critical water is also more efficient but it takes materials that can withstand the pressure and corrosion. I didn’t say ‘steam’ because super critical water doesn’t actually boil. These can obtain 40% or more thermal efficiency.

Reciprocating piston engines, however, have serious limitations due to the heating and cooling cycle of the cylinders. Large gains in efficiency don’t look to be possible without a new design.

Matt
Matt
Reply to  Bob_Wallace
7 years ago

This chart ca not be seen OFTEn enough. It is one of the big reason that say we can make it, there is so much waste in the basic system. Then when you add in improvements in use the output need goes way down also.

Peter Moss
Peter Moss
Reply to  JamesWimberley
7 years ago

I read it somewhere else regarding the BP report that the drop in emissions can be largely attributed to the US switch from coal to natural gas for electricity production.

Shiggity
Shiggity
7 years ago

Record levels of global wealth inequality are now present.

The wealth across the globe has not been as unequal as it is now since *slavery was legal*.

20+ years with no wage growth…

JamesWimberley
JamesWimberley
Reply to  Shiggity
7 years ago

Your point? Possibly, inequality tends to overstate growth in median incomes. However, the American case where the rich took all the GDP growth is unusual. We are seeing a genuine decoupling of consumption growth from primary energy.

neroden
neroden
Reply to  Shiggity
7 years ago

This is a major problem, but I fail to see how it connects to the technological shift (mostly energy efficiency) which is causing us to use less energy.

ROBwithaB
ROBwithaB
Reply to  Shiggity
7 years ago

Looking at this from a Third World perspective, one of the main reasons to be excited about (decentralised) renewable energy production is that it has the potential to put the power (literally) in the hands of the people.
The tiny penetration of renewables thus far doesn’t show up in the numbers for wealth inequality. That inequality presumably has much more to do with the OLD energy paradigm (fossil fuels and nuclear) than with the move to renewables that is now beginning.

neroden
neroden
Reply to  ROBwithaB
7 years ago

Yeah. Even a poor, remote third-world village can get together the money to buy some solar panels and batteries to operate vital equipment. Getting connected to The Grid is much more expensive and difficult…

Peter Moss
Peter Moss
Reply to  neroden
7 years ago

These small solar systems are certainly helpful. However, I don’t see them getting these people out of energy poverty.

Will these systems operate a refrigerator?

Bob_Wallace
Bob_Wallace
Reply to  Peter Moss
7 years ago

Micro-solar systems will not power a refrigerator. But people at the bottom of the economic ladder can’t afford a refrigerator. The goal is to give them a better alternative than kerosene, candles and disposable batteries.

For those who have more assets they can start with a very small solar system, figure out how they work, and grow their system.

A small village might be able to use a shared refrigerator for their critical needs. Or perhaps the local store could use one to keep perishable foods on hand and then people can buy what they want on a daily basis.

Calamity_Jean
Calamity_Jean
Reply to  Peter Moss
7 years ago

“Will these systems operate a refrigerator?”

Not a very big one, anyway.
http://www.sunfrost.com/vaccine_refrigerator.html

heinbloed
heinbloed
7 years ago

Where does this new report place the old predictions made by BP?

Has someone the old predictions for 2015 at hand (lets say 5,10 or 20 year old ones for 2015) and can place an article here comparing what was previously predicted with what actually happened?

The IEA made some obscure predictions in the past, is BP worse or better ?

heinbloed
heinbloed
7 years ago

BP has their agents in leading political positions:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Duncan_%28politician%29

They make sure nothing changes from top to bottom:

http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/london/eu-co2-market-reform-must-work-around-existing-26464845

” That’s not politically feasible at this stage, Duncan said.”

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

Since fossil fuel loses about 50% when converting to use. BP has to use input not output or it looks even worse for them. Cut coal/oil/NG in half and things to not look the same.