Global energy demand rose by 2.1% in 2017, more than twice the previous year's rate, and reached an estimated 14,050 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), compared with 10,035 Mtoe in 2000. Energy demand was boosted by strong global economic growth, with oil, gas and coal meeting most of the increase in demand for energy, and renewables seeing impressive gains, said the International Energy Agency (IEA) in a press release, citing the Global Energy & CO2 Status Report, which was released on Wednesday. Fossil fuels accounted for over 70% of the growth in world energy demand last year and carbon emissions rose for the first time since 2014.
According to the IEA, over 70% of global energy demand growth was met by oil, natural gas and coal, while renewables accounted for almost all of the rest. Natural gas demand increased the most, reaching a record share of 22% in total energy demand. Renewables also grew strongly, making up around a quarter of global energy demand growth, while nuclear use accounted for the remainder of the growth. The overall share of fossil fuels in global energy demand in 2017 remained at 81%, a level that has remained stable for more than three decades despite strong growth in renewables.
The growth in global energy demand was concentrated in Asia, with China and India together representing more than 40% of the increase.
According to the report, world electricity demand increased by 3.1 %, significantly higher than the overall increase in energy demand. “Together, China and India accounted for 70% of this growth. Output from nuclear plants rose by 26 TWh in 2017, as a significant amount of new nuclear capacity saw its first full year of operation.”
Electricity generation increased by 3.1%, or 780 TWh, worldwide in 2017 as electricity demand rose faster than overall global energy demand growth.
Advanced economies accounted for 10% of electricity demand growth, with average demand rising by less than 1%. In the United States, electricity demand fell by almost 80 TWh compared with 2016. In the European Union, electricity demand growth of 2.3% (or 75 TWh) matched the estimated 2.3% growth in economic output.
Improvements in energy efficiency slowed down last year. The rate of decline in global energy intensity, defined as the energy consumed per unit of economic output, slowed to only 1.6% in 2017, much lower than the 2.0% improvement seen in 2016.
“As a result of these trends, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.4% in 2017, after three years of remaining flat,” said the agency. They reached a historical high of 32.5 Gt in 2017, but it did not rise everywhere. While most major economies saw a rise, others - the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan - experienced declines, said the IEA. The biggest drop in emissions came from the United States, driven by higher renewables deployment.
"The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA's Executive Director. “For example, there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policy makers have put less focus in this area," said Birol.
While world oil demand rose by 1.6% (or 1.5 million barrels a day) in 2017 (a rate that was more than twice the annual average seen over the last decade), global natural gas demand grew by 3%, thanks in large part to abundant and relatively low-cost supplies. In the past decade, half of global gas demand growth came from the power sector; last year, however, over 80% of the rise came from industry and buildings.
According to the IEA, the European Union also saw strong growth in gas demand (continuing the trend from 2016), with consumption up around 16 bcm in 2017. “Some of this increase was weather-related, for instance due to a poor year for hydropower. Demand from industry also reportedly picked up on the back of stronger economic activity. Gas consumption in the European Union is still more than 10% below the peak seen in 2010. Gas imports were near historical highs.”
Global coal demand rose about 1% in 2017, reversing the declining trend seen over the last two years.
Renewables had the highest growth rate of any fuel, meeting a quarter of world energy demand growth, as renewables-based electricity generation rose 6.3%, driven by expansion of wind, solar and hydropower. China and the United States led the growth, contributing around 50% of the increase in renewables-based electricity generation, followed by the European Union, India and Japan. Wind power accounted for 36% of the growth in renewables-based power output.
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