As a result of higher energy consumption, CO2 emissions rose 1.7% last year and hit a new record, according to the latest data from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The Paris-based agency’s Global Energy & CO2 Status Report, released today, shows that the global energy system emitted 33 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2018.

(Image: IEA)

"We have seen an extraordinary increase in global energy demand in 2018, growing at its fastest pace this decade," said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director. "Last year can also be considered another golden year for gas, which accounted for almost half the growth in global energy demand. But despite major growth in renewables, global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts - developing all clean energy solutions, curbing emissions, improving efficiency, and spurring investments and innovation, including in carbon capture, utilisation and storage."

According to the report, energy consumption increased at nearly twice the average rate of growth since 2010, driven by a robust global economy and higher heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world. Demand for all fuels increased, led by natural gas, even as solar and wind posted double digit growth. Higher electricity demand was responsible for over half of the growth in energy needs. Energy efficiency saw "lacklustre improvement", it said.

Global electricity demand rose by 4% in 2018, nearly twice as fast as overall energy demand, and at its fastest pace since 2010. Renewables and nuclear power met the majority of the growth in demand. Still, generation from coal- and gas-fired power plants increased considerably, driving up CO2 emissions from the sector by 2.5%. Emissions from power generation reached about 13 Gt, or 38% of total energy-related CO2 emissions last year.

Clean energy

Data on global energy demand and electricity generation by source showed nuclear with 710 Mtoe - a 5% share of the total, which was down from 7% in 2000.

Nuclear power generated 2724 TWh (gross) last year, up 3.3% year-on-year. It accounted for 10% of electricity generation, down from 17% in 2000, according to the IEA. Half of that was due to new plants entering service in China. Restarting four nuclear power plants for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan and higher availability in France together added 38 TWh. Production in Switzerland, Taiwan, Pakistan and Sweden also increased. Generation fell in South Korea, because of new maintenance regulation, and in Belgium, because of shutdowns caused by safety-related concerns.

Renewables generation growth accelerated to 7% in 2018, from 6% in 2017, and met 45% of global electricity demand growth. It reached record highs in several countries, such as Germany, where for the first time, generation from renewables exceeded coal-fired generation. In the UK, renewables produced a record 35% of the total generation of 335 TWh.

Solar PV, hydro and wind each account for 30% of the growth in renewable generation globally, with bioenergy accounting for most of the rest.

Despite the important increase in generation from low-carbon sources, coal- and gas-fired generators were also called upon in 2018 to meet higher electricity demand, the report says.

Coal grew more than any other single source of generation in 2018, accounting for 26% of total additional generation. With a 38% market share, it remains the largest source of electricity generation. The highest increase in coal power generation took place in China, followed by India. These countries more than offset significant reductions in the USA, Europe and Japan.

Natural gas was the second-largest single source of global electricity generation and grew by almost 240 TWh, nearly as much as coal. Most of the increase came from the USA, where gas-fired generation rose by 15% to overtake coal as the largest source of generation.

Electricity demand

Half of the growth in global energy demand came from the power sector, in response to higher electricity consumption, according to the report.

"About a fifth of the growth in electricity demand last year can be attributed to weather conditions," it says. "Demand for air-conditioning during the summer jumped last year, which ranked as the fourth hottest year on record. Likewise, colder-than-average winters in North America increased the call for heating."

China and the USA, the world's two largest power markets, accounted for 70% of global demand growth. In China, electricity demand increased by 8.5%, a notable uptick compared with recent years. This was led by the industrial sector, including iron, steel and other metals, cement and construction, as well as higher demand for cooling. In the USA, after stable consumption in recent years, demand jumped by nearly 4% to a record level of almost 4000 TWh, 17% of the global total. The majority of the growth was attributable to a hotter summer and a colder than average winter, which increased power demand in buildings.

India's power demand increased by around 65 TWh, or 5.4%, a slower rate than the previous year. The increase was driven by higher demand in buildings, especially coming from air conditioning, as well as higher access to electricity. Last year, India completed the electrification of all its villages, with electricity connections extended to around 30 million people in the last two years.

In Europe and Japan, power demand grew by less than 1%, while in Australia demand fell. South Korea saw demand growth of around 3% due to higher-than-average summer temperatures.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Tuesday, 26 March 2019
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