The just-issued 2018 BP Statistical Review contains a number of variables that were not available in previous reports, in particular electricity generation from oil, gas and coal since 1985. Combining these variables with BP’s nuclear, hydro and renewables generation numbers and with BP’s CO2 emissions data reveals the following:
• The world has made no progress towards decarbonizing its electricity sector over the last 32 years. In 1985 it generated 35% of its electricity from low-carbon sources (hydro, nuclear, renewables). In 2017 it generated 34%. Mostly this is a result of rapid emissions growth in China.
- Of the country groups considered only the EU28 has made any significant progress towards decarbonization (from 59% low-carbon generation in 1985 to 44% in 2017). EU28 emissions, however, make up only a small fraction of total global emissions.
- In 2017 electricity generation accounted for probably less than a third of total global greenhouse gas emissions, which include CO2, methane, NOx etc. Targeting electricity sector emissions while ignoring emissions from other sectors is therefore pointless.
BP’s generation data are summarized on the following four Figures, each of which contains a graph showing total generation by source followed by a graph showing the percentage contribution of each source to the generation mix between 1985, when the BP data begin, and 2017.
Figure 1 shows global electricity generation. The first graph shows global electricity generation growing by an average of about 3% annually since 1985, although the rate of increase has slowed marginally (to about 2.4% annually) since 2010. Of particular interest is the fact that increased generation from renewables (solar, wind, bio) has been sufficient to cover only about half of the increase in world electricity demand over the last ten years or so. The most remarkable thing about the second graph is the absence of any significant change.
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