The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013 — the company’s 62nd annual report — says the US recorded the world’s highest growth in production of both oil and natural gas in 2012. With rising natural gas output driving prices lower in the US, natural gas displaced coal in power generation, causing the US to experience the largest decline of coal consumption in the world.
Global CO2 emissions from energy use continued to grow in 2012, but at a slower rate than in 2011, the report says. Lower coal use helped the US reduce its CO2 emissions to 1994 levels, and EU emissions declined despite coal gaining market share from natural gas in power generation.
Additionally, 2012 saw the largest annual decline in world nuclear output, BP reports. In Japan, where nuclear power generation all but disappeared after 2011’s Fukushima disaster, higher imports of fossil fuels including liquefied natural gas “kept the lights on,” the review says. In Europe, where gas prices were higher than in the US, power generators took the opposite course from the US, and substituted coal for gas.
The review also found a drop in the growth of overall global energy consumption to 1.8 percent in 2012, down from 2.4 percent the previous year. This was partly a result of the economic slowdown, but also because individuals and businesses responded to high prices by becoming more energy efficient. The emerging economies — the non-OECD countries — firmly established themselves as the source of what demand growth was seen, with China and India alone accounting for nearly 90 percent of the increase. Just 20 years ago, the emerging economies accounted for only 42 percent of global consumption, the report says; now that figure is 56 percent.
Coal remained the fastest-growing fossil fuel, with China now consuming the majority of the world’s coal for the first time — but it was also the fossil fuel that saw the weakest growth relative to its historical average.
Hydroelectric and renewable energy (along with cheap natural gas in North America) competed against coal in power generation. Global biofuels output fell for the first time since 2000 due to weakness in the US, but renewables in power generation grew by 15.2 percent and accounted for a record 4.7 percent of global power output, BP says.