Categories
Energy Profiles UK

The Energy System of the United Kingdom

The UK’s supply of energy from coal has plummeted, and that from oil, gas and renewables has recently grown. Between 2010 and 2017 (the most recent year of free IEA data, and the only with sufficient detail to calculate this), non-hydro renewables grew to an 8% share, nuclear was steady at about 9%, biofuels more than doubled from 3% to 7%, and fossil fuels reduced from 88% to 76%.

Placing aside the obfuscation of carbon accountancy caused by biofuel energy (explained below), the data shows the carbon intensity of the UK’s energy supply has only lowered to world average, despite the UK’s CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels having declined by 30% between 2008 and 2018.1 The UK’s energy supply in 2017 remained highly fossil fuelled.

This post discusses the topics energy supply, energy consumption and electricity. To learn about the differences between them, refer to the post Energy Accounting.

The UK’s Energy Supply

Gas and oil supply most of the UK’s energy and hold roughly equal shares.2

The UK’s energy supply is shown below in chart 1, and in expanded form in chart 2. It’s important to note that in the UK’s case, IEA data reveals that about half of the energy shown by BP to be from renewables is from bioenergy, which as explained further below, is not all carbon-neutral.

Chart 1. UK’s energy supply, 1990 to 2018. Data: BP(2019).3 Shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.4
Chart 2. UK’s energy supply, 1990 to 2018, expanded. Data: BP(2019).3 Shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.4

The obvious decline of coal is due to a decline of energy consumption by UK industry, and the replacement of coal with gas, bioenergy and wind for electricity generation.

Charts 3 and 4 show the UK’s energy supply by share, that in 2017 was 76% fossil fuelled. Note that although IEA data used here is one year older than BP’s above, it reveals the share of energy from biofuels and waste.

Chart 3. UK’s energy supply by share in 2017. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5
Chart 4. UK’s energy supply by share. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

Numerical values are shown below.

Table 1. UK’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5 Dashes indicate negligible or zero values.

Consumption of biofuels results in false carbon accountancy:4 The UK is the world’s largest importer of biofuel wood pellets,6 and emissions from burning biofuels is reported in the land-use sector only, not the energy sector, and only by the country supplying the biofuel. Furthermore, countries such as US, Canada and Russia which are all significant exporters of biofuels, do not account for the carbon emissions of biofuels.4 By converting coal fired power station furnaces to instead burn biofuels, as has been done in 4 of the 6 units of Drax power station (the largest in the UK)7 and then importing the biofuel from the US, the UK government has literally been able to omit these emissions from its tally, and now are not tallied in any country at all. The map below from Drax shows their biofuel supply operations in the US.

In 2017, the UK has imported over a quarter of its biofuel, 8 and 4 million tonnes of wood pellets was exported from the US to the UK.9 Currently 20 thousand tonnes arrives daily.10. As shown further below, 8% of the UK’s electricity in 2017 was generated by biofuels, 62% of which was generated by combusting ‘plant biomass’,11 which is a general term encompassing wood pellets. This equates to 5% of total electricity generation.12

Drax power station.13

Is burning wood really carbon neutral?  
Southern forest ecosystems do a lot for both people and wildlife. But perhaps most valuable today is their role in storing carbon. And on that key point, critics take strong exception to the industry’s claim that wood pellets are a carbon neutral fuel.
“That’s just not correct,” says John Sterman, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management who recently published a lifecycle analysis of wood bioenergy.
“What we found is that contrary to your intuition, burning wood to make electricity in places like the Drax power plant actually makes climate change worse for the rest of the century” Sterman says.

The UK’s move away from coal means they’re burning wood from the US, Public Radio International (PRI).9

The UK’s annual territorial fossil fuel (i.e. energy related) CO2 emissions are shown below. The decline shown in (a) is not entirely factual due to the false carbon accountancy of biofuels described above.

Chart 5.(a) The UK’s annual fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Data: BP(2019).3 (b) The UK’s fossil fuel CO2 emissions by source from 1959 to 2018. Data: Global Carbon Project.14 Flaring emission data only shown for years 2000 to 2018.

A measure of carbonisation is the carbon intensity of the energy supply, which is the mass of carbon dioxide emitted per Joule of energy supplied. This is shown below for the UK, the world and other countries discussed on this site. This calculation depends on reported CO2 emissions that omit emissions from bioenergy, so actual values of the UK’s carbon intensity will be slightly higher.

Chart 6. Carbon intensity of UK’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

The UK’s Energy Consumption

The London skyline.15

As shown in figure 1 above, energy consumption describes energy after conversions. For example, some energy supplied by coal is converted and consumed as electricity, and the rest is instead combusted and consumed in industrial applications (e.g. steel manufacture) and domestic applications (e.g. cooking). The UK’s energy consumption is shown below.

Chart 7. UK’s energy consumption by share in 2017, showing electricity generation. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5 The dashed segment in the left hand most pie chart represents the equivalent share of electricity if the quantity produced in 2017 was produced within a 100% wind/water/solar (WWS) energy system, serving to demonstrate the remaining change needed for full electrification. The 21.6% in 2017 equates to 50.3% under WWS, as shown. The share of electricity becomes greater because total energy consumption of a 100% WWS system reduces to 42.9% of business-as-usual.16 17 This is due to: (a) using heat pumps for building heat; (b) using electricity for industrial heat; (c) using battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; (d) eliminating mining, transportation and processing of fuels, and (e) efficiency improvements. Also note: (i) Non-energy use of energy sources excluded (e.g. oil used for lubrication); (ii) Transport & Distribution Losses include gas distribution, electricity transmission, and coal transport, and (iii) Examples of Electricity Industry Own-Use include energy consumed in coal mines, own consumption in power plants and energy used for oil and gas extraction.18

Chart 8 shows electricity generation by share for year 2018 using BP data.

Chart 8. Electricity generation in the UK, 2018. Data: BP(2019).3 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Solid Biofuels; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.4

The diversity of the UK’s electricity generation technology is broad, consisting in 2018 of 1,085 seperate generators with a total capacity of 79.4GW,19 and an additional 17.5GW of overseas electricity interconnectors planned, of which 5GW is now operational. The planned total capacity of the interconnectors will be equivalent to 22% of the UK’s total capacity, and when complete, the UK’s grid will be connected to that in Norway, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Ireland.

UK overseas electricity interconnectors showing operating (5GW), under construction (3.4GW) and planned (9.1GW).20 Total interconnector capacity is planned to be 17.5GW. In comparison, this is 22% of total installed electricity capacity in the UK in 2018 of 79.4GW.21

Chart 9 shows electricity generation over time.

Chart 9. Electricity generation in UK. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

The total installed capacity of wind electricity generation in 2018 was 8.9GW onshore and 7GW offshore,22 and as shown in the charts above, in 2017 generated 14% of the UK’s electricity.

Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm23 24

As shown above, for about the past three decades nuclear energy has accounted for about 9% of the UK’s energy supply and 20% of electricity.

Worldwide there are 449 nuclear reactors,25 and in 2018 nuclear power stations produced 10% of the world’s electricity.3

The UK established the world’s first civil nuclear programme26 and has fifteen operational nuclear reactors.27 All but one are planned to be closed by 2030, with eleven before 2025. One nuclear power station, known as Hinkley Point C,28 is being constructed in the UK at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Also at this location is the disused Hinkley Point A29 and the still operational Hinkley Point B30 nuclear power stations. Hinkley Point C is being constructed by Électricité de France (EDF), 83% owned by the French government, and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a state-run Chinese energy company. CGN took a 33.5% stake in the project, which will be the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in almost 20 years and will provide about 7% of the country’s electricity.31

View east from Dunkery Beacon on Exmoor, towards the Somerset coast. Hinkley Point is visible in the distance.32

Hinkley Point C is a third generation (‘generation three’)33 pressurised light water reactor (PWR) design known as a European Pressurised Reactor, or Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR).34 Generation three designs of nuclear power stations include developments of generation two nuclear reactors that were built up to the late 1990s. These developments include (i) improved fuel technology, (ii) longer operating life, (iii) improved thermal efficiency, (iv) significantly enhanced safety systems (including passive nuclear safety), and (v) standardised designs for reduced costs.33

Hinkley Point C will consist of two EPR reactors each with a capacity of 1,600 MW. Taishan 1 in China was the first EPR to begin operation, in June 2018.35 Three other commercial EPR units currently being built: Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Finland, Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant in France, and Taishan 2 in China.

Charts 10 and 11 compare electricity generation for years 2017 and 2018. Although BP classify hydro separately from renewables, it’s of course also renewable.

Chart 10. Electricity generation in the UK, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).3 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.4 About half of the energy in the UK from non-hydro renewables is from biofuels, two-thirds of which is from plant-biomass.
Chart 11. Electricity generation in the UK, expanded, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).3 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.4 About half of the energy in the UK from non-hydro renewables is from biofuels, two-thirds of which is from plant-biomass.

The following two charts below show the UK’s energy consumption over time by energy source and economic sector.

Chart 12. UK’s energy consumption by: (a) Energy source; (b) Economic sector. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

Finally, the following charts show energy consumption in each economic sector. Most consumption is gas and oil, in the residential and transport sectors respectively.

Chart 13. Energy consumption in economic sectors. Note: The transport sector includes rail and aviation. Gridlines removed for clarity. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5
  1. (563MtCO₂ – 394MtCO₂) / 563MtCO₂()
  2. British Gas, https://www.britishgas.co.uk/the-source/our-world-of-energy/energys-grand-journey/where-does-uk-gas-come-from()
  3. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()()()()()()()
  4. https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()()()()()()()
  5. https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tables?country=UK&energy=Balances&year=2017()()()()()()()()
  6. https://www.carbonbrief.org/investigation-does-the-uks-biomass-burning-help-solve-climate-change()
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_power_stations_in_England()
  8. p33, https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Biomass-in-a-low-carbon-economy-CCC-2018.pdf()
  9. https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-06-20/uk-s-move-away-coal-means-they-re-burning-wood-us()()
  10. https://www.drax.com/technology/5-incredible-numbers-worlds-largest-biomass-port/, 20 thousand tonnes/day × 5 days/week × 52 weeks/year = 5.2 million tonnes/year()
  11. 19,838/31,778 =  62%, Capacity of, and electricity generated from, renewable sources (DUKES 6.4), https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/renewable-sources-of-energy-chapter-6-digest-of-united-kingdom-energy-statistics-dukes()
  12. 62% of 8% is 5%()
  13. Photo by Harkey Lodger, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Harkey_Lodger, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Draxps.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0.()
  14. http://folk.uio.no/roberan/GCB2019.shtml()
  15. Photo by Kloniwotski, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/da/The_City_London.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0.()
  16. 8.7/20.3 = 42.9%, https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/TimelineDetailed.pdf()
  17. https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/WorldGridIntegration.pdf()
  18. https://www.iea.org/statistics/resources/balancedefinitions/()
  19. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/731591/DUKES_5.11.xls()
  20. https://www.drax.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2019-Q1-4-neighbours-new.png()
  21. para 5.54, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/736152/Ch5.pdf()
  22. Database page, sorted by installed capacity, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/731591/DUKES_5.11.xls()
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheringham_Shoal_Offshore_Wind_Farm()
  24. Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhd-info/8033151828/in/photostream/()
  25. https://pris.iaea.org/PRIS/WorldStatistics/OperationalReactorsByType.aspx()
  26. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_the_United_Kingdom()
  27. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_reactors#United_Kingdom()
  28. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_Point_C_nuclear_power_station()
  29. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_Point_A_nuclear_power_station()
  30. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinkley_Point_B_Nuclear_Power_Station()
  31. http://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Hinkley-Point-C-cost-rises-by-nearly-15()
  32. Photo by Nilfanion, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hinkley_from_Dunkery.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0.()
  33. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_III_reactor()()
  34. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPR_(nuclear_reactor)()
  35. http://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/after-pain-olkiluoto-and-flamanville-worlds-first-/()
Categories
Energy Profiles Sweden

The Energy System of Sweden

This post discusses the topics energy supply, energy consumption and electricity. To learn about the differences between them, refer to Energy Accounting.

Sweden’s Energy Supply

Reactor at Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant.1

Sweden’s energy supply is shown below in chart 1, and in expanded form in chart 2.

Chart 1. Sweden’s energy supply, 1990 to 2018. Data: BP(2019).2 Shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3
Chart 2. Sweden’s energy supply, 1990-2018, expanded. Data: BP(2019).2 Shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3

Charts 3 and 4 show Sweden’s energy supply by share using IEA data that reveals the large share of energy from biofuels and waste.

Chart 3. Sweden’s energy supply by share in 2017. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4
Chart 4. Sweden’s energy supply by share. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4

Numerical values are shown below.

Table 1. Sweden’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4 Dashes indicate negligible or zero values.

The increased share and quantity of nuclear energy between 1979 and 1984 resulted in rapid decarbonisation, at a linear rate of -5.6%/yr over the period.5

About 55% of Sweden’s land area is forested,6 so it’s not surprising that biofuel features in the country’s energy system.

A nice autumn view towards Stora Sjöfallet National Park.7 8

As the share and quantity of energy from biofuels continues to increase, Sweden may be carbonising, although reported carbon emissions and carbon intensity reduce. The Swedish government and the Swedish bioenergy trade association, Svebio,9 claim biofuels are carbon-neutral, but the arguments on which this claim is based are not credible, as explained in the post Biofuels. Emissions from burning biofuels is reported in the land-use sector only, not the energy sector, and only by the country supplying the biofuel. Furthermore, countries such as US, Canada and Russia which are all significant exporters of biofuels, do not account for the carbon emissions of biofuels.3

The chart below shows that 85% of the biofuel share of Sweden’s energy supply is solid, which is simply vegetation, or biological matter that was created by photosynthesis. While this term does not distinguish between slow growing biofuels such as trees, and fast growing biofuels such as grass that may be carbon-neutral, the solid biomass in Sweden is predominantly from trees as wood-chips, bark and sawdust.10 Unfortunately in 2017, 1.68 billion Euros worth of new biofuel combined heat and power projects were underway.11

Chart 5. Energy production by biofuels and waste in Sweden in 2017. A relatively negligible amount of liquid biofuels is not shown. Data: IEA.12
Hedensbyverket biofuel energy plant (combined heat power) in Skellefteå, Sweden.13

Sweden’s reported annual fossil fuel CO2 emissions are shown below.

Chart 5.(a) Sweden’s annual fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Data: BP(2019).2 (b) Sweden’s fossil fuel CO2 emissions by source from 1959 to 2018. Flaring shown from 2000 to 2018. Data: Global Carbon Project.14

A measure of carbonisation is the carbon intensity of the energy supply, which is the mass of carbon dioxide emitted per Joule of energy supplied. This is shown below for Sweden, the world and other countries discussed on this site. While Sweden’s carbon intensity is relatively very low, this calculation depends on reported CO2 emissions described above, so may not be credible.

Chart 6. Carbon intensity of Sweden’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4

Sweden’s Energy Consumption

X2 Swedish high speed tilting train.15 In Sweden many trains run at 200km/h.16 Realising that it couldn’t build its rail lines as straight as the high-speed lines in the likes of Japan and France, the country’s state-controlled infrastructure operator set aboåut developing a high-speed network designed around tilting train technology in the mid-1980s. Each X2 formation consists of one 4400hp car, powered at 15kV AC. Each unit can be made up of up to 16 intermediate vehicles with a maximum capacity of 1,600 passengers, but a typical train will only have five intermediate trailers.17

As shown in figure 1 above, energy consumption describes energy after conversions. For example, some energy supplied by coal is converted and consumed as electricity, and the rest is instead combusted and consumed in industrial applications (e.g. steel manufacture) and domestic applications (e.g. cooking). Sweden’s energy consumption is shown below.

Chart 7. Sweden’s energy consumption by share in 2017, showing electricity generation. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4 The dashed segment in the left hand most pie chart represents the equivalent share of electricity if the quantity produced in 2017 was produced within a 100% wind/water/solar (WWS) energy system, serving to demonstrate the remaining change needed for full electrification. The 35.1% in 2017 equates to 81.8% under WWS, as shown. The share of electricity becomes greater because total energy consumption of a 100% WWS system reduces to 42.9% of business-as-usual.18 19 This is due to: (a) using heat pumps for building heat; (b) using electricity for industrial heat; (c) using battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; (d) eliminating mining, transportation and processing of fuels, and (e) efficiency improvements. Also note: (i) Non-energy use of energy sources excluded (e.g. oil used for lubrication); (ii) Transport & Distribution Losses include gas distribution, electricity transmission, and coal transport, and (iii) Examples of Electricity Industry Own-Use include energy consumed in coal mines, own consumption in power plants and energy used for oil and gas extraction.20

In 2017, Sweden consumed 35.1% of its energy in the form of electricity, 69% greater than the world average of 20.8%.21 More than all of Sweden’s total electricity requirement for 2017 was produced by roughly equal shares of 45% nuclear and hydro energy, 12% wind energy and 7% biofuels. Combined these total 109%, partly because while Sweden imported 8% of its electricity during the year, 21% was exported.

Sweden’s topography and climate has facilitated hydro energy, with 47 hydroelectric power stations with capacities greater than 100MW,22 and 2,057 hydro electric power stations in total.23

Sweden constructed four nuclear power stations, each consisting of multiple reactors. Interestingly, construction times for the first reactors was typically only 6 years, despite their capacities being large at 600MW to 800MW.24 25 In total 12 reactors were commissioned in Sweden, progressively between 1972 and 1985, with a total capacity reaching 11GW.26 This caused rapid and significant lowering of CO2 emissions by about a third in only five years,27 as shown in chart 5(a). No reactors were commissioned after 1985, and after 2020 half are planned to be decommissioned (i.e. 6 of the reactors or 38% of the original 11GW capacity).28 The remaining 62% of capacity is expected to operate until at least 2040. Currently 4 of the 6 reactors to be decommissioned (22% of original capacity)29 have been shutdown permanently.

Chart 8 shows electricity generation over time using data from the IEA up to year 2017. BP’s energy statistics doesn’t provide any information specifically about Sweden, so the information from BP shown about electricity this in other posts on this site is unavailable.

Chart 8. Electricity generation in Sweden. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4

The following two charts below show Sweden’s energy consumption over time by energy source and by economic sector.

Chart 9. Sweden’s energy consumption by: (a) Energy source; (b) Economic sector. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4

The following charts show energy consumption in each economic sector. 

Chart 10. Energy consumption in economic sectors. Note: The transport sector includes rail and aviation. Gridlines removed for clarity. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.4

Oil in the industrial sector declined as industrial output in China increased, and while oil dominates the transport sector, consumption of liquid biofuels has become significant.

In 2017 biofuels, mainly biodiesel, accounted for 20% of all road transport fuels in Sweden.30

Energy consumption of the transport sector in Sweden, 2017, showing further detail for that in chart 10 above.30

The rapid growth of biofuels in recent years is mainly attributed to the increased use of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) renewable diesel fuels, which are produced from various bio-based raw materials.

Bioenergy International, 2017 another record year for biofuels in Sweden.30

HVO is based on feedstocks like tall oil, animal fats, and recovered vegetable oils.

IEA bioenergy country report, Sweden 2018.10

Because tall oil is obtained from woody biomass in Sweden, and that HVO is also based on animal factory farming, it can’t be assumed that biofuel consumption by Sweden’s transport sector is carbon-neutral.

Discussion

While Sweden has undertaken significant efforts to decarbonise its energy supply using nuclear energy, the quantity and share of energy from biofuels has grown significantly, seemingly without honest and rigorous regard to the possible consequential carbon emissions. The Chatham House report, Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate,31 makes detailed recommendations that Sweden’s government could utilise to produce honest and transparent accountancy of territorial carbon emissions, and then perhaps factual decarbonisation.

  1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Forsmark3.jpg, photo credit: robin-root (CC BY-SA 2.0) ()
  2. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()()()
  3. https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()()()
  4. https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tables?country=SWEDEN&energy=Balances&year=2017()()()()()()()()
  5. Territorial emissions in 1979 = 85MtCO2, 1984 = 57MtCO2 (ref: http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/en/CO2-emissions), (57 – 85)/(1984 – 1979) = -5.6%/yr of original amount.()
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forests_of_Sweden, https://www.sveaskog.se/en/forestry-the-swedish-way/short-facts/brief-facts-1/()
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stora_Sjöfallet_National_Park()
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vy_mot_Stora_Sjöfallet_från_Saltoluokta.jpg, photo credit: STF Saltoluokta Fjällstation()
  9. https://www.svebio.se/en/()
  10. https://www.ieabioenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IEA-Bioenergy-Countries-Report-Update-2018-Bioenergy-policies-and-status-of-implementation.pdf()()
  11. https://bioenergyinternational.com/heat-power/eur-1-68-billion-worth-biomass-power-projects-sweden()
  12. https://www.iea.org/statistics/()
  13. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FIL2938.JPG, photo credit: Mattias Hedström (CC BY-SA 2.5) ()
  14. http://folk.uio.no/roberan/GCB2018.shtml()
  15. Stefan Nilsson/SJ [CC BY 3.0], https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SJ_X2_in_snow_Jonsered_2007-01.jpg()
  16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_Sweden()
  17. https://www.railway-technology.com/projects/sweden/()
  18. 8.7/20.3 = 42.9%, https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/TimelineDetailed.pdf()
  19. https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/WorldGridIntegration.pdf()
  20. https://www.iea.org/statistics/resources/balancedefinitions/()
  21. https://www.worldenergydata.org/world/()
  22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hydroelectric_power_stations_in_Sweden()
  23. https://www.worldenergy.org/data/resources/country/sweden/hydropower/()
  24. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barsebäck_Nuclear_Power_Plant()
  25. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringhals_Nuclear_Power_Plant()
  26. 615 + 615 + 865 + 900 + 1070 + 1120 + 1450 + 494 + 664 + 984 + 1120 + 1170 = 11,067MW, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Sweden()
  27. Territorial emissions in 1979 = 85MtCO2), 1984 = 57MtCO2), (57 – 85)/85 = -33% over 5 years()
  28. (615 + 615+865 + 900+ 494+ 664) / 11,067 = 38%()
  29. (615 + 615 + 494 + 664) / 11,067()
  30. https://bioenergyinternational.com/markets-finance/2017-another-record-year-biofuels-sweden()()()
  31. https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/woody-biomass-power-and-heat-impacts-global-climate()
Categories
Australia

Australia’s Fossil Fuel Exports

Kooragang coal export terminal stockyards, Port Waratah Coal Services, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.1

Although the UN’s climate treaty accounts for carbon emitted from fossil fuel exports within the country of the fuel’s consumption, Australia bears the moral responsibility for placing fossil fuels on the international market. This is the same manner in which a meth-cook is responsible for supplying a market: both result in short-term gain, long-term ruin, because as long as fossil fuels are sold, they will be burned. Shown here is that Australia’s fossil fuel energy exports as a share of national export value, and on a global scale, are massive and amount to a carbon-bubble.

The climate impact of Australia’s fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas) exports ranks behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia exports in terms of global emissions, according to a major new report from the Australia Institute Climate & Energy Program.
The new research also finds that in absolute terms Australia is the world’s fifth largest miner of fossil fuels, ranking behind only China, USA, Russia and Saudi Arabia. On a per capita basis, Australia is on par with Saudi Arabia.

New Analysis: Australia Ranks Third for Fossil Fuel Export.2

The quality of Australian healthcare, education, defence and infrastructure is maintained by income from these exports. The voting population prospers and votes for more, while ignoring that their prosperity is being stolen from young and future generations, who are left worsening climate impacts and the massive burden of carbon dioxide removal.3

Fossil fuels exports in 2017-18 were 24.3% of Australia’s total export value.4 Thermal and metallurgical coal was Australia’s second largest export at 15% share of total export value (the largest was iron ore at 15.2%), liquified natural gas (LNG) 7.7% and crude oil 1.6%.4

Note –

  • metallurgical coal, per tonne, causes an equivalent quantity of CO2 to be emitted as thermal coal.5
  • LNG is predominately methane that is liquified by cooling to -162℃, thereby compressing it and making it economic to export in specifically designed tankers.6 (Natural gas piped domestically is also mostly methane but not liquified).7

Australia now vies with Qatar as the world’s largest exporter of LNG, and was the world’s largest LNG exporter in November 2018.8 9 Australia exported approximately 75Mt (million tonnes) of LNG in 2018-19.10

LNG exports from Australia and Qatar.11

In 2016, $AUD124.2 million was spent on coal exploration in Australia,12 and $AUD1.4 billion was spent on oil and gas exploration.13


Cumulative expenditure of fossil fuel exploration. Vertical dashed lines show tenure of elected federal political party. Data: Australian Bureau Of Statistics.14
Australian students fighting for their future.15 16

The Australian federal government’s priorities are blatant and contradictory to the interests of young Australians –

The outlook for the Australian resources sector is bright.
By 2030, Asia will produce more than half of the world’s economic output; consume 40 per cent of its energy; and be home to a middle class of almost 3.5 billion people.((https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/australias-national-resources-statement/the-australian-resources-sector-significance-and-opportunities)) By virtue of our geographic location, abundant reserves of resources, skilled workforce and strong mining services sector, Australia is well positioned to be a key supplier for the region. 

Demand will increase in both traditional commodities, such as coal, iron ore, liquefied natural gas (LNG), base metals, such as copper and nickel, and emerging minerals, like lithium and rare earths which have many applications for the digital age (Table 1).

The Australian resources sector – significance and opportunities, published by the Australian federal government in 201917
The Australian resources sector – significance and opportunities, published by the Australian federal government in 2019.17

The development of the east coast coal seam gas (CSG) industry is a recent example of the development of a new national wealth centre. The development of the CSG industry in Queensland led to more than $60 billion being invested in three new LNG export projects at Gladstone over the last decade—conservatively equivalent to 20 – 25 per cent of the Queensland economy around the time the projects were commissioned.17

There are several areas where this is again possible, including:

• The Beetaloo Sub-basin in the Northern Territory which has a world-class shale gas resources and is home to more than three quarters of Northern Territory’s perspective shale gas resources.

• The Galilee Basin in Queensland which has more than 29 billion tonnes of coal reserves identified following a boom in greenfield exploration. The Galilee Basin could also contain significant reserves of gas. 

• The Great Australian Bight which is one of Australia’s largest frontier basins and could have enormous oil and gas potential.

• The Canning and Browse Basins which hold immense oil and gas potential. 

The Australian resources sector – significance and opportunities, published by the Australian federal government in 201917

Does the Australian government participate in international climate negotiations with an aim to prevent climate catastrophe, or to secure the economic value of its fossil fuel exports?

Australia’s vast current gas and coal exports, and anticipated expansions of these are detailed below. What proportion of voting Australians are aware of the fossil fuel exports described here, and what proportion feel responsible for the consequences to be faced by their children and grandchildren?

Australia’s Fossil Fuel Exports In Detail

LNG Exports

The astonishing scale of major Australian gas extraction and export projects are detailed below.

Map of Australian gas extraction projects.18
Australia’s top LNG export markets (2016–17). Values shown are share of total export value (%).13

Gorgon LNG19

Gorgon onshore LNG plant site.19 See below for description.
Participants: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas and JERA.

Largest single resource project in Australia’s history, costing $US54 billion18 and producing 15Mtpa (millions of tonnes per annum) of gas (6% of 2015 global trade20). 40 year lifespan and began operating in 2016. Consists of a subsea gas gathering system, onshore LNG plant site, buildings and services, and an offloading jetty.

Gas is extracted from 18 offshore wells using a subsea gas gathering system, instead of offshore platforms. Drilling of the wells was done at depths of over 9km (6mi) beneath the seabed. More then 800km (500mi) of pipeline is laid offshore and onshore. The subsea installation is on the largest in the world with more than 250,000 tons of steel pipe and structures, equalling the weight of three aircraft carriers. The pipe is so strong that it can span 270m (300 yds) unsupported.
The LNG plant site, service buildings and jetty are located on Barrow Island, classified a “Class A” nature reserve with 378 species of native plants, 13 species of mammals and 43 species of reptiles. Here gas is either converted to LNG and offloaded to tankers for export, or supplied to the domestic market.

The jetty rests on 56 concrete caissons each weighing an average of 2,500 tonnes.21

Liquefaction of the gas to compress it involves removing the CO2 that makes up 14%, otherwise it would form a solid. The LNG plant site includes a CO2 sequestration plant that’s used to greenwash the Gorgon project.

The amount of steel used in the LNG plant site is more than 4 times that used in the Sydney Harbour bridge. It contains 51 liquefaction modules, each heavier than 3,500 cars and relies on 584MW of power generated onsite from 5 gas turbine modules. These self contained power plants were manufactured in Italy by GE22 and contain a gas turbine (manufactured in France), 10km (6mi) of structural welding, and 19km (12 mi) of electrical cable. Each gas turbine module weighs 2,300 tons, as much as 4 double-decker Airbus jets. These were loaded onto ships and transported 20,000km (12,000mi) to Barrow Island.

At least 1,558 native animals were killed during construction and classified as accidental deaths.23

Gorgon is currently being expanded, spending $US4 billion drilling 11 new wells, expanding the subsea gas gathering system and pipeline.24

The North West Shelf Project25

Participants: Woodside, BHP, BP, Chevron, Japan Australia LNG and Shell.

Cost $US24 billion, produces 17Mtpa for international and Australian domestic markets.

Consists of: (a) Onshore Karratha Gas Plant that compresses gas and offloads LNG to export vessels; (b) North Rankin Complex that consists of North Rankin A and B offshore platforms, joined by two 100m (300ft) bridges; (c) Goodwyn A offshore platform, gas is piped from here over 100km (62mi) to the Karratha Gas Plant; (d) Angel offshore platform, connected to the North Rankin Complex via 50km (31mi) subsea pipeline. Not normally manned and instead operated remotely from the Rankin Complex; and (e) Okha floating oil production vessel, moored and connected to a riser turret which is connected to flexible flow lines from three seabed oil fields.

Crude oil is offloaded from the Okha vessel via a flexible line directly to bulk tankers, while a seabed pipeline exports LPG-rich gas to the North Rankin Complex, before being piped 135km (84mi) to the Karratha Gas Plant.

The North West Shelf Expansion26 is currently underway, aims to exploit six offshore hydrocarbon fields with 8 production wells tied back to Goodwyn A platform via 35km (22mi) long subsea pipeline. Budget was US$2 billion.

The Bayu-Undan27

Participants: ConocoPhillips, Santos, Inpex, ENI, Tokyo Timor Sea Resources, Tokyo Gas, Tokyo Electric and Chibu Electric.

Commissioned in 2006, produces 3.7Mtpa and gas expected to be fully extracted by 2022. Located offshore in the Timor Sea. Australia has delayed to ratify an agreement with Timor Leste for sharing the profits from this gas field 90%/10% between Australia and Timor Leste respectively.28

Gas is extracted and compressed in-situ before being piped to the mainland as LNG. Consists of: (a) two joined offshore platforms forming the Central Production and Processing (CPP) complex; (b) a floating storage and offloading facility 2km (1.2mi) from the CPP; (c) an unmanned wellhead platform 7km (4.4mi) from the CPP; (d) LNG production facility in Darwin (‘Darwin LNG’) that offloads the LNG onto tankers; and (e) a 500km (311mi) long subsea pipeline connecting the CPP to Darwin LNG.

The Barossa Project29

Participants: ConocoPhillips, SK E&S Australia and Santos.

Offshore from Darwin. Being built and will ensure continued operation of Darwin LNG once all gas has been extracted from Bayu-Undan.

Consists of: (a) floating gas extraction, production, storage and offloading vessel; (b) subsea gas gathering system; and (c) a 260km (162mi) subsea pipeline connecting the vessel to Darwin LNG.

Curtis Island LNG30

Participants: Shell, China National Offshore Oil Corporation,Tokyo Gas, ConocoPhillips, Origin, Sinopec, Santos, Petronas, Total, and Kogas.

Cost $US46 billion, produces 25.3Mtpa. Located on Curtis Island next to the Great Barrier Reef. Produces LNG from coal seam gas for export and the Australian domestic market.31

Pluto LNG32

Participants: Woodside, Kansai Electric and Tokyo Gas.

Cost $US11 billion and produces 4Mtpa. Consists of: (a) Onshore Pluto LNG Park gas compression and offloading facility; (b) Pluto-A offshore platform, not normally manned; (c) seabed gas pipeline connecting the two; and (d) Pluto Support Centre in Perth from where remote operations are controlled.

Wheatstone LNG33

Participants: Woodside, Chevron, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, Kyushu Electric Power Company and PE Wheatstone.

Cost $US24 billion and is forecast to produce 9Mtpa. Currently being built. Consists of an offshore platform, an onshore processing facility and subsea pipeline.

Greater Enfield34

Participants: Woodside and Mitsui E&P Australia.

Currently being expanded. The Ngujima-Yin floating gas extraction, production, storage and offloading vessel moored above the Vincent oilfield. Will also extract oil from two other oilfields using subsea pipelines 31km (19mi) long.

Prelude FLNG35

Participants: Shell, INPEX, KOGAS and OPIC.

Cost $US13 billion and will produce 3.5Mtpa. Floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) is a ‘revolutionary’ technology that will allow Shell to access offshore gas fields that would otherwise be too costly or difficult to develop. Currently being commissioned.36

488m long and 74m wide making it the world’s largest FLNG platform. Has thrusters to ensure stability during offloading but no form of propulsion. Will extract gas from 7 wells and employ an onboard team of 120 to 140 people.

Ichthys37

Participants: INPEX, Total, CPC Corporation Taiwan, Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas, Kansai Electric Power, JERA and Toho Gas.

Cost $US37 billion, over 90% complete and forecast to produce 9Mtpa of LNG, 1.6 Mt of LPG per annum and over 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak (various hydrocarbons).
Consists of: (a) Onshore processing and loading facilities near Darwin; (b) Central processing facility (CPF), which is the world’s largest semi-submersible platform; (c) nearby floating production, storage and offloading facility (FPSO) for offshore processing of condensate; and (d) 890km (550mi) long subsea pipeline to carry the gas to the shore. This consumed 700,000 tonnes of steel and 550,000 tonnes of concrete.

Coal Exports

Thermal coal is mainly used for generating electricity at coal power stations, and metallurgical coal is mainly used to make steel. Australia does not export any brown coal.

As stated above, coal was Australia’s second largest export earner at 15% of total. In 2017 Australia was the second largest exporter of thermal coal (Indonesia was the largest)38 and the largest (by far) exporter of metallurgical coal and iron ore, each with a share of just over 50% of total global trade.39 40 41 This coal and ore is consumed by the countries shown below.

Australia’s top metallurgical coal export markets.12
Australia’s top iron ore export markets.42
Australia’s top thermal coal export markets.12

Australia’s coal mines are shown in the map below, with operating mines as grey circles, and developing mines as grey triangles. In 2017, Australia had 91 operating black coal mines.43

Map of major mines and mineral deposits. 44

The coal export industry is serviced by ten coal terminals at six ports along the eastern coast of Australia. Port ownership is a combination of public and private interests.

A number of new coal terminal and expansion projects have been completed to increase capacity to approximately 600 million tonnes per annum to meet expected long-term global growth, particularly from China and India.

Minerals and Petroleum in Australia | A Guide for Investors published by the Australian federal government in 201745

Anticipated Expansions Of Australian Fossil Fuel Exports

Greater Poseidon46

Participants: ConocoPhillips, Origin Energy and PetroChina.

10 gas wells drilled 480km (298mi) offshore.

Athena47

Participants: ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.

Gas field 130km (81mi) offshore.

Greater Sunrise48

Participants: Woodside, Timor-Leste, Shell and Osaka Gas.

The maritime boundary between Timor-Leste and Australia intersects this gas field.

During negotiations with Timor-Leste, a whistleblower revealed the Australian government planted 200 covert listening devices in the Timor-Leste Cabinet Office at Dili. In 2018, a new agreement was signed that split profits 80% East Timor, 20% Australia. The Australian government filed criminal charges against the whistleblower and his lawyer. The whisteblower revealed the bugging operation in 2012 after learning Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had become an adviser to Woodside Petroleum, which was benefiting from the treaty. Alexander Downer stated the following about Timor-Leste: “I think they’ve made a very big mistake thinking that the best way to handle this negotiation is trying to shame Australia, is mounting abuse on our country…accusing us of being bullying and rich and so on, when you consider all we’ve done for East Timor.”49 50 51

Barrup Hub52

Proposal to join Pluto LNG and the North West Shelf project to form a massive LNG extraction, processing and offloading complex.

Crux53

PARTICIPANTS: Shell

Shell Australia is proposing to develop the Crux gas field offshore. The design consists of a not-normally-manned platform with five wells. The facility will be connected to Prelude FLNG via a 165km (102mi) long export pipeline. A final investment decision on whether to proceed is anticipated in 2020. Crux is expected to have at least a 20-year lifespan.

Carmichael Coal Mine54

PARTICIPANTS: ADANI

Proposed thermal coal mine in the Galilee Basin, planned to be conducted by both open-cut and underground methods. The mine is proposed by Adani Mining, a wholly owned subsidiary of India’s Adani Group. The development was initially intended to represent an $AU16.5 billion investment, however, after being refused financing by over 30 financial institutions, Adani announced in 2018 that the mining operation would be downsized and self-funded to $AU2 billion.

The original design for the mine would make it the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world.

Exports are intended to leave the country via port facilities at Hay Point and Abbot Point after being transported to the coast via rail. The proposal includes a new 189km (117mi) railway line to connect with the existing Goonyella railway line. Most of the exported coal is planned to be shipped to India.55

  1. https://pwcs.com.au()
  2. https://www.tai.org.au/content/new-analysis-australia-ranks-third-fossil-fuel-export()
  3. https://www.worldenergydata.org/climate-part-3/()
  4. Total value of Australian exported goods and services during 2017 – 18 = $403.2 billion. Iron ore = $61.4 billion (61.4/403.2 = 15.2%), coal = $60.4 billion (60.4/403.2 = 15%), LNG = $30.9 billion (30.9/403.2 = 7.7%) and crude oil = $6.5 billion (6.5/403.2 = 1.6%), copied from https://www.austrade.gov.au/news/economic-analysis/australia-a-resilient-trade-performance. 15% + 7.7% + 1.6% = 24.3%()()
  5. p5 of report available at https://www.greenpeace.org.au/research/steeling-the-future/()
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquefied_natural_gas()
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas()
  8. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-qatar-lng/australia-grabs-worlds-biggest-lng-exporter-crown-from-qatar-in-nov-idUSKBN1O907N()
  9. https://www.lngworldnews.com/australia-edges-qatar-as-worlds-largest-lng-exporter-in-november/()
  10. https://www.afr.com/companies/energy/lng-breaks-record-with-50-5b-of-exports-20190715-p5278v()
  11. https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/AUSTRALIA-QATAR-LNG/0H001GSE13GD/eikon.png()
  12. https://archive.industry.gov.au/resource/About/Australias-Major-Resources-Commodities/Documents/Fact-Sheet-COAL.pdf()()()
  13. https://archive.industry.gov.au/resource/About/Australias-Major-Resources-Commodities/Documents/Fact-Sheet-GAS.pdf()()
  14. https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/8412.0Mar%202019?OpenDocument()
  15. https://www.fridaysforfuture.org()
  16. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-46380418()
  17. https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/australias-national-resources-statement/the-australian-resources-sector-significance-and-opportunities()()()()
  18. https://archive.industry.gov.au/resource/Offshore-oil-and-gas/Development/Pages/LNG-Projects.aspx()()
  19. https://australia.chevron.com/our-businesses/gorgon-project()()
  20. The global trade of LNG in 2015 was 245Mtpa, p13, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/12/f34/Understanding%20Natural%20Gas%20and%20LNG%20Options.pdf()
  21. https://thewest.com.au/business/energy/the-day-disaster-struck-gorgon-ng-b88423525z()
  22. https://www.ge.com/reports/post/117086423145/huge-ge-gas-turbine-generator-starts-up-at-one-of/()
  23. https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/wa/threatened-animals-suffer-for-gas-project-ng-dd6a57939a3d74db09584f04d390a66a()
  24. https://www.afr.com/business/energy/gas/chevron-in-further-multibillion-dollar-investment-in-gorgon-lng-20180415-h0ys86()
  25. https://www.woodside.com.au/our-business/north-west-shelf-project#.WjtK7f4UkuU()
  26. https://www.woodside.com.au/news-and-media/stories/story/gwf-2-puts-foot-on-the-gas()
  27. http://www.conocophillips.com.au/what-we-do/our-projects-activities/bayu-undan/()
  28. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/16/australia-accused-of-siphoning-millions-in-timor-leste-oil-revenue()
  29. http://www.conocophillips.com.au/what-we-do/our-projects-activities/barossa-project/()
  30. https://www.bechtel.com/projects/curtis-island-lng/()
  31. http://www.conocophillips.com.au/what-we-do/our-projects-activities/australia-pacific-lng/()
  32. https://www.woodside.com.au/our-business/pluto-lng()
  33. https://www.woodside.com.au/our-business/wheatstone-lng()
  34. https://www.woodside.com.au/our-business/australia-oil()
  35. https://www.shell.com.au/about-us/projects-and-locations/prelude-flng.html()
  36. https://www.shell.com.au/about-us/projects-and-locations/prelude-flng/_jcr_content/par/relatedtopics_be45.stream/1509004520788/bc8653ba13d5e00e1192216acbef9f35a6f697162a219bffcd108b1aa7eda83a/shell-prelude-factsheet-oct-2017.pdf?()
  37. https://www.inpex.com.au/our-projects/ichthys-lng-project/here-for-the-long-haul/()
  38. https://publications.industry.gov.au/publications/resourcesandenergyquarterlydecember2018/documents/Resources-and-Energy-Quarterly-December-2018-Thermal-Coal.pdf()
  39. https://publications.industry.gov.au/publications/resourcesandenergyquarterlydecember2018/index.html()
  40. https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/visualize/tree_map/hs92/export/show/all/2601/2017/()
  41. https://publications.industry.gov.au/publications/resourcesandenergyquarterlyseptember2018/documents/Resources-and-Energy-Quarterly-September-2018-Met-Coal.pdf()
  42. https://archive.industry.gov.au/resource/About/Australias-Major-Resources-Commodities/Documents/Fact-Sheet-IRON-ORE.pdf()
  43. p4, https://d28rz98at9flks.cloudfront.net/124309/124309_AIMR.pdf()
  44. p71 of Australia’s Identified Mineral Resources 2018, https://d28rz98at9flks.cloudfront.net/124309/124309_AIMR.pdf()
  45. p56, https://d28rz98at9flks.cloudfront.net/110628/110628_investors_guide.pdf()
  46. http://www.conocophillips.com.au/what-we-do/our-projects-activities/greater-poseidon/()
  47. http://www.conocophillips.com.au/what-we-do/our-projects-activities/athena/()
  48. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-02/timor-leste-buys-stake-in-greater-sunrise-fields/10328274()
  49. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia–East_Timor_spying_scandal()
  50. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-28/witness-k-and-bernard-collaery-charged-intelligence-act-breach/9919268()
  51. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/27/former-judge-delays-witness-k-case-abandonment-open-fair-justice()
  52. https://files.woodside/docs/default-source/our-business—documents-and-files/burrup-hub—documents-and-files/burrup-hub-fact-sheet.pdf?sfvrsn=a45e92ce_18()
  53. https://www.shell.com.au/about-us/projects-and-locations/the-crux-project/project-overview.html()
  54. https://www.adaniaustralia.com()
  55. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmichael_coal_mine()
Categories
Australia Energy Profiles

The Energy System of Australia

Australia’s energy system in 2017 was 89% fossil fuelled (2017 is the most recent year of free IEA data, and the only with sufficient detail to calculate this).

The share of fossil fuels in Australia’s exports in 2018 was 24% of total value. This is detailed separately at Australia’s Fossil Fuel Exports.

Roughly two thirds of domestic electricity generation will need to be replaced over the next 30 years, and Australian emissions continue to grow despite extensive death of the Great Barrier Reef and clear scientific projections of further devastation.

This post discusses the topics energy supply, energy consumption and electricity. To learn about the differences between them, refer to Energy Accounting.

Australia’s Energy Supply

Oil tanker docked at the jetty of BP’s oil refinery at Kwinana, Western Australia, August 2019.1 Photo credit: Calistemon (CC BY-SA 4.0) Half of Australia’s transport fuel is processed from crude oil by Australia’s four refineries,2 and 83% of this crude oil is imported.3. The other half of transport fuel is imported; 51-53% from Singapore, 18% from South Korea, 12% from Japan and the remaining 17% to 19% from other countries.3

Australia’s energy supply is shown below in chart 1 and expanded in chart 2.

Chart 1. Australia’s energy supply, 1990 to 2018. Data: BP(2019).4 Darker bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5
Chart 2. Australia’s energy supply, 1990 to 2018, expanded. Data: BP(2019).4 Shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5

Annual changes of Australia’s energy supply are shown in chart 3. Fossil fuels again outpaced renewables in 2018.

Chart 3. Annual change of Australia’s energy supply, 2000 to 2018. Data: Calculated using BP(2019).4 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5

Charts 4 and 5 show Australia’s energy supply by share, which has consistently been about 90% fossil fuelled, and remained so in 2017 (the latest year of freely available data with sufficient detail, from the IEA. BP’s data is inadequate). For comparison, the world reached a maximum of 79% during 2000 to 2010, since dropping to 77% in 2017.6

Chart 4. Australia’s energy supply by share in 2017. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7
Chart 5. Australia’s energy supply by share. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7

Numerical values below simply show little change.

Table 1. Australia’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7 Dashes indicate negligible or zero values.
‘…there’s no word for coalaphobia officially…’Prime Minister of Australia, and at the time Treasurer Scott Morrison in reply to a staged question from another member of his party. Morrison praised coal and proudly endorsed it as a fuel that delivers prosperity while hoping his ‘lack of fear’ of alternative forms of energy would be perceived as not having a preference for coal-energy. Feb 9, 2017. The party was led at the time by Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull who seemed quite satisfied with his Treasurer’s weasel-words.8
Further embarrassing and shameful conduct.

Australia’s fossil fuel (i.e energy related) CO2 emissions are shown in chart 6, showing an obvious spike in emissions from oil.

Chart 6.(a) Annual Australian fossil fuel CO2 emissions, 1965 to 2018. Data: BP(2019).4 (b) Australian fossil fuel CO2 emissions (the energy sector), 1959-2018. Data: Global Carbon Project.9 Flaring emission only for years 2000 to 2018.

A measure of carbonisation is the carbon intensity of the energy supply, shown below, which is the mass of carbon dioxide emitted per Joule of energy supplied. Chart 7 shows that in 2017 Australia’s energy supply was more carbon intensive (‘dirtier’) than China’s,10 and the world.11

Chart 7. Carbon intensity of Australia’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7

Australia’s Energy Consumption

Australia’s expansion of its domestic gas supply: The Ocean Monarch offshore drilling rig.12 Manufactured in Norway, commissioned in 1974, owned by Diamond Offshore Drilling, and tours the world.13 The 22,000 ton rig has been contracted to Cooper Energy who are drilling the first of two new gas wells into the Sole gas field, 35km offshore of the Gippsland coast. Gas will be piped to the shore via a 65km subsea pipeline and control umbilical to the Orbost gas plant for processing. From there the gas will be distributed to the domestic east coast market via the Eastern Gas Pipeline.14

As shown in figure 1 above, energy consumption describes energy after conversions. For example, some energy supplied by coal is converted and consumed as electricity, and the rest is instead combusted and consumed in industrial applications (e.g. steel manufacture) and domestic applications (e.g. cooking).

Australia’s energy consumption for year 2017 is shown below in chart 8. Just over half was consumed as oil and oil products, just over 20% as electricity and just under 20% as gas. Of the electricity generated, 63% was coal fired (almost as great a share as China at 68%), gas was 20%, wind 5% and solar PV 3%.

Chart 8. Australia’s energy consumption and electricity generation in 2017. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7 The dashed segment in the left hand most pie chart represents the equivalent share of electricity if the quantity produced in 2017 was produced within a 100% wind/water/solar (WWS) energy system, serving to demonstrate the remaining change needed for full electrification. The 23.5% in 2017 equates to 55% under WWS, as shown. The share of electricity becomes greater because total energy consumption of a 100% WWS system reduces to 42.9% of business-as-usual.15 16 This is due to: (a) using heat pumps for building heat; (b) using electricity for industrial heat; (c) using battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; (d) eliminating mining, transportation and processing of fuels, and (e) efficiency improvements. AlsoNote: (i) Non-energy use of energy sources excluded (e.g. oil used for lubrication); (ii) Transport & Distribution Losses include gas distribution, electricity transmission, and coal transport, and (iii) Examples of Electricity Industry Own-Use include energy consumed in coal mines, own consumption in power plants and energy used for oil and gas extraction.17

The following two charts below show Australia’s energy consumption over time by energy source and by economic sector. Oil consumption by the transport sector is Australia’s largest form of energy consumption.

Chart 9. Australia’s energy consumption by: (a) Energy source; (b) Economic sector. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7

The following charts show energy consumption in each economic sector. 

Chart 10. Energy consumption in economic sectors. Note: The transport sector includes rail and aviation. Gridlines removed for clarity. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7
Liddell coal fired power station, NSW18 The Liddell power station reaches the end of its design life in 2022 and according to its owner AGL, can be (not ‘will be’) replaced with the ‘latest technology’. AGL also states: ‘AGL’s replacement plan is technology agnostic, incorporating an upgrade of the Bayswater coal-fired power station and renewables firmed up by new gas plants and energy storage.’

Chart 11 shows electricity generation over time.

Chart 11. Electricity generation in Australia. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.7

In 2016 Australia had 23 operating coal fired power stations, with a combined capacity of 25GW.19 20 Based on announced closures and the expectation of a 50 year operating life, as specified by Transgrid,21 all but Bluewaters 1 and 2 power stations in WA are expected to close prior to 2052 – that amounts to 98%22 of coal power generation capacity, which in 2017 was 63% of total electricity generation.19 20

Less detailed but more recent data is available from BP, and plotted in the charts below. Chart 12 shows shares of electricity generation in 2018.

Chart 12. Electricity generation in Australia, 2018. Data: BP(2019).4 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Solid Biofuels; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5

Chart 13 and 14 compare electricity generation for years 2017 and 2018. Although BP classify hydro separately from renewables, it is also renewable, of course.

Chart 13. Electricity generation in Australia, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).4 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5
Chart 14. Electricity generation in Australia, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).4 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5

Chart 15 shows the changes of electricity generation between years 2017 and 2018. Australia’s total electricity generation in 2017 was 259TWh, and therefore fossil fuels decreased by 3% of total (-8/259) and renewables increased by 3.9% (10/259).

Chart 15. Changes in Australia’s electricity generation between years 2017 & 2018. Data: Calculated using BP(2019).4 Darker bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5

Australia was founded on misery, as a penal colony,23 and successive Australian federal governments have conducted themselves in a miserable manner preventing the reduction of emissions, and not telling the truth to the Australian people. Future misery has been sown by Australia’s fossil fuel exports, and the federal government is promoting more.

Parliament House (federal government), Australia.24
  1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BP_Oil_Refinery_Jetty,_Kwinana,_August_2019_3.jpg()
  2. https://www.aip.com.au/resources/glance-australian-oil-refineries()
  3. https://theconversation.com/australia-imports-almost-all-of-its-oil-and-there-are-pitfalls-all-over-the-globe-97070()()
  4. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()()()()()()()()
  5. https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()()()()()()()
  6. Table 1, https://www.worldenergydata.org/world-energy-supply/()
  7. https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tables?country=AUSTRALI&energy=Balances&year=2017()()()()()()()()
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KoMeJB_ywY()
  9. http://folk.uio.no/roberan/GCB2018.shtml()
  10. https://www.worldenergydata.org/china/()
  11. https://www.worldenergydata.org/world-energy-supply/()
  12. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dockwise_HLV_BLUE_MARLIN_preparing_to_offload_OCEAN_MONARCH.jpg, Jim Hatter from US [CC BY 2.0]()
  13. https://www.infield.com/rigs/ocean-monarch-semisub-60034()
  14. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-03/two-new-gas-wells-drilled-offshore/9722012()
  15. 8.7/20.3 = 42.9%, https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/TimelineDetailed.pdf()
  16. https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/WorldGridIntegration.pdf()
  17. https://www.iea.org/statistics/resources/balancedefinitions/()
  18. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lake_Liddell_with_power_stations.jpg, Webaware [Public domain]()
  19. http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/minerals/mineral-resources-and-advice/australian-resource-reviews/black-coal()()
  20. https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/minerals/mineral-resources-and-advice/australian-resource-reviews/brown-coal()()
  21. Note 2 of figure 4, https://www.transgrid.com.au/news-views/publications/Documents/Transmission%20Annual%20Planning%20Report%202018%20TransGrid.pdf()
  22. 1-208MW*2/25GW()
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convicts_in_Australia()
  24. Photo by JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parliament_House_Canberra_Dusk_Panorama.jpg()
Categories
China Energy Profiles

The Energy System of the People’s Republic of China

China’s energy system in 2017 was 83% fossil fuelled and its share of non-hydro renewables reached only 4% (2017 is the most recent year of free IEA data, and the only with sufficient detail to calculate this).

In 2018 fossil fuel additions continued to outpace renewables, and the addition to fossil fuelled electricity generation was twice that from hydro and renewables combined.

In 2019, China had more coal plants under construction than the rest of the world combined,1 and was funding 26% of those in construction outside China.2

China is set to add new coal-fired power plants equivalent to the EU’s entire capacity, as the world’s biggest energy consumer ignores global pressure to rein in carbon emissions in its bid to boost a slowing economy.

Last year China’s net additions to its coal fleet were 25.5GW, while the rest of the world saw a net decline of 2.8GW as more plants were closed than were built.

The Financial Times, Nov 20 2019.1
China at a Crossroads: Continued Support for Coal Power Erodes Country’s Clean Energy Leadership, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).2
The Financial Times3

This post discusses the topics energy supply, energy consumption and electricity. To learn about the differences between them, refer to Energy Accounting.

China’s Energy Supply

Shanghai’s citizens being choked by the useless byproducts of China’s energy system, Dec 5 2016.4

China’s energy supply is shown below in chart 1 and expanded in chart 2.

Chart 1. China’s energy supply, 1990 to 2018. Data: BP(2019).5 Shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.6
Chart 2. China’s energy supply, 1990 to 2018, expanded. Data: BP(2019).5 Shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.6

China’s energy supply is dominated by coal, whereas at the world scale the supply of oil and coal are similar.7 As shown further below, this is due to the consumption of coal by China’s industrial sector annually manufacturing half the world’s steel8 and much of its goods. China simply became the world’s factory, and exploited this opportunity for economic growth by the most economically efficient means possible; by combusting coal.

Annual changes of China’s energy supply are shown in chart 3. Fossil fuels once again outpaced renewables in 2017 and 2018.

Chart 3. Annual change of China’s energy supply, 2000 to 2018. Data: Calculated using BP(2019).5 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.6

Charts 4 and 5 show China’s energy supply by share.

Chart 4. China’s energy supply by share in 2017. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9
Chart 5. China’s energy supply by share. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9

Numerical values are shown below.

Table 1. China’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9 Dashes indicate negligible or zero values.

The share of supply of energy from coal in China has been about double that of the world, and oil about half, plausibly due to more economic emphasis on manufacturing than per capita consumption of goods and services. The share of energy supplied from biofuels and waste declined, perhaps due to lower residential consumption of biofuels for cooking and heating. Note the share of fossil fuels increased from 75% in 1990 to 87% in 2010, and was 83% in 2017. While the world talked of decarbonisation, China carbonised. This is further demonstrated in chart 1 above. Although the share of fossil fuels has recently declined slightly, CO2 emissions in 2018 reached a record amount. This is because the supply of energy from fossil fuels and renewables both increased.

China’s annual territorial fossil fuel (i.e. energy related) CO2 emissions are shown below.

Chart 6.(a) China’s annual fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Data: BP(2019).5 (b) China’s fossil fuel CO2 emissions by source from 1959 to 2019. Values for 2019 are projected. Data: Global Carbon Project.10

A measure of carbonisation is the carbon intensity of the energy supply, shown below, which is the mass of carbon dioxide emitted per Joule of energy supplied. This shows China carbonised since 1990, to a level in 2017 27% greater than the world value.11

Chart 7. Carbon intensity of China’s energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9

China’s Energy Consumption

Aerial view of Shanghai, August 2011.12

As shown in figure 1 above, energy consumption describes energy after conversions. For example, some energy supplied by coal is converted and consumed as electricity, and the rest is instead combusted and consumed in industrial applications (e.g. steel manufacture) and domestic applications (e.g. cooking).

China’s energy consumption for year 2017 is shown in chart 8 below. Just over a third of energy was consumed as coal directly, a fifth as oil and a quarter as electricity. If China’s energy system was transformed to 100% wind, water and solar, then the current share of electricity would be equivalent to almost 61%, as shown by the dashed green segment. Of the electricity generated, just over two thirds was coal fired, nearly a fifth hydro, and gas and nuclear about 3% each. Solar PV generated 2% and wind 4.4%.

Chart 8. China’s energy consumption (TFC), year 2017. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9 The dashed segment in the left hand most pie chart represents the equivalent share of electricity if the quantity produced in 2017 was produced within a 100% wind/water/solar (WWS) energy system, serving to demonstrate the remaining change needed for full electrification. The 26% in 2017 equates to 61% under WWS, as shown. The share of electricity becomes greater because total energy consumption of a 100% WWS system reduces to 42.9% of business-as-usual.13 14 This is due to: (a) using heat pumps for building heat; (b) using electricity for industrial heat; (c) using battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; (d) eliminating mining, transportation and processing of fuels, and (e) efficiency improvements. Also note: (i) Non-energy use of energy sources excluded (e.g. oil used for lubrication); (ii) Transport & Distribution Losses include gas distribution, electricity transmission, and coal transport, and (iii) Examples of Electricity Industry Own-Use include energy consumed in coal mines, own consumption in power plants and energy used for oil and gas extraction.15

The following two charts below show China’s energy consumption over time by energy source and by economic sector. Consumption of coal by China’s industrial sector clearly dominates.

Chart 9. China’s energy consumption by: (a) Energy source; (b) Economic sector. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9
Hydro electricity generation: The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, China.16 This has been the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity (22,500 MW) since 2012. The dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites, displaced some 1.3 million people, and had caused significant ecological changes including an increased risk of landslides.17

The following charts show energy consumption in each economic sector. 

Chart 10. Energy consumption in economic sectors. Note: The transport sector includes rail and aviation. Gridlines removed for clarity. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9

Note the: (i) the high coal consumption by industry, largely for the manufacture of steel; (ii) the dominance of oil in the transport sector; and (iii) the decline of biofuels for cooking and heating.

Regarding steel production, on average, per tonne of coal consumed, the same amount of CO2 is emitted by a steel mill and by a coal fired power station.18

Steel is an alloy based primarily on iron. As iron occurs only as iron oxides in the earth’s crust, the ores must be converted, or ‘reduced’, using carbon. The primary source of this carbon is coking coal.

How is Steel Produced? World Coal Association.

China is the world’s steel giant, accounting for half of the world’s production and consumption. The next largest market is the EU at just 10%, which demonstrates just how much the Chinese market drives the global steel industry.

China continues to dominate global steel, March 2017.
East lake and steel mills, Wuhan, China, 2009.19

Chart 11 shows electricity generation over time. Coal dominated and hydro’s contribution grew to be significant. The remaining forms of generation were negligible.

Chart 11. Electricity generation in China. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.9)
The world’s ‘largest’ thermal power station as of Feb 2019: The Tuoketuo coal fired power station in Inner Mongolia (part of China and seperate from Mongolia). This power station is owned by Datang International Power Generation Co. and has a capacity of 6,270 MW.20 This is not an old plant – the first units began operation in 2003 and was most recently expanded in 2017.21 The power plant exploits coal from the Junggar Coalfield approximately 50 km (31 mi) away, and meets its water requirements by pumping its needs from the Yellow River, located 12 km (7 mi) away.22 The tall narrow chimneys are the flue gas stacks that emit CO2 and other combustion byproducts. The wide chimneys are the cooling towers that emit waste heat.23

The caption in the picture above states:

As the world’s largest thermal power plant with a total installed capacity of 6,720 MW, Inner Mongolia Tuoketuo Power Generation Company insists on being synchronised with the power industry in innovation and upgrading, as well as high-efficient and clean development. It is committed to “bringing clean energy to Beijing and protecting the environment in Inner Mongolia”. In 2017, the Phase V project of Tuoketuo Power Generation Company was recognised as the Elite Project of China Datang as the two units achieved ultra-low emissions soon as they went into operation with dust emission lower than national standards and reaching the leading level in China.

Datang International Power Generation Co., Ltd. Social Responsibility Report 2017.

Less detailed but more recent data is available from BP, and plotted in the charts below. Chart 12 shows shares of electricity generation in 2018.

Chart 12. Electricity generation in China, 2018. Data: BP(2019).5 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Solid Biofuels; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.6

Chart 13 and 14 compare electricity generation for years 2017 and 2018. Although BP classify hydro separately from renewables, it is of course also renewable.

Chart 13. Electricity generation in China, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).5 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.6
Chart 14. Electricity generation in China, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).5 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.6

Chart 15 shows the changes of electricity generation between years 2017 and 2018. The increase in fossil fuelled electricity generation was TWICE that from hydro and renewables combined.24

Chart 15. Changes in China’s electricity generation between years 2017 & 2018. Data: Calculated using BP(2019).5 Darker bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.6

The configuration of China’s energy system seems to have solely been a consequence of globally competitive economic priorities. That competitiveness was fuelled by an abundance of cheap labour and coal from domestic and overseas mines. Fossil fuels continue to dominate and outpace renewables.

  1. https://www.ft.com/content/c1feee40-0add-11ea-b2d6-9bf4d1957a67()()
  2. http://ieefa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/China-at-a-Crossroads_January-2019.pdf()()
  3. https://www.ft.com/content/baaa32dc-1d42-11e9-b126-46fc3ad87c65()
  4. Andrey Filippov 安德烈 from Moscow, Russia, Shanghai, China (37199009294)CC BY 2.0()
  5. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()()()()()()()()
  6. https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()()()()()()()
  7. https://www.worldenergydata.org/world-energy-supply/()
  8. https://www.2wglobal.com/news-and-insights/articles/features/china-continues-to-dominate-global-steel/()
  9. https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tables?country=CHINA&energy=Balances&year=2017()()()()()()()()
  10. http://folk.uio.no/roberan/GCB2018.shtml()
  11. Chart 9, https://www.worldenergydata.org/world-energy-supply/ ()
  12. Vmenkov, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aerial_-Shanghai-_P1040698.JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0()
  13. 8.7/20.3 = 42.9%, https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/TimelineDetailed.pdf()
  14. https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/WorldGridIntegration.pdf()
  15. https://www.iea.org/statistics/resources/balancedefinitions/()
  16. Source file: Le Grand PortageDerivative work: Rehman, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ThreeGorgesDam-China2009.jpg, CC BY 2.0()
  17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Gorges_Dam()
  18. Steeling the Future, The truth behind Australian metallurgical coal exports, Greenpeace, https://www.greenpeace.org.au/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/280517-GPAP-Steeling-the-Future-Report-LR.pdf()
  19. East lake and steel mills, Wuhan, China, 2009, Author ‘fading’ CC BY-SA 3.0()
  20. Datang International Power Generation Co., Ltd. Social Responsibility Report 2017.()
  21. https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Datang_Tuoketuo_power_station()
  22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuoketuo_Power_Station()
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_power_station#Typical_coal_thermal_power_station()
  24. 308/(116+37) = 2.0()
Categories
Energy Profiles World Energy

The World Energy System

The world’s energy system in 2017 was 77% fossil fuelled, and electricity 65% fossil fuelled (2017 is the most recent year of free IEA data, and the only with sufficient detail to calculate this).

In 2018, the addition of energy of fossil fuels outpaced that from renewables for the third consecutive year, and the increase in generation of electricity from fossil fuels was 9% greater than that from all renewables combined.

The carbon intensity of the world’s energy supply in 2015 equaled that in 1995; humanity wasted two precious decades.

This post discusses the topics energy supply, energy consumption and electricity. To learn about the differences between them, refer to the post Energy Accounting.

World Energy Supply

Petroleum refinery in Detroit.1 Most of civilisation’s energy is supplied by oil.

The world energy supply is shown below using BP’s data (solid biofuels are not fully accounted for). Note the recent increase of fossil fuels in 2018. Chart 2 shows this was due to the increase in supply of energy from gas. Coal also recently increased and oil continues to relentlessly increase.

Chart 1. World energy supply, 1990 to 2018. Data: BP(2019).2 Darker bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3
Chart 2. World energy supply (TPES), 1990 to 2018, expanded. Data: BP(2019).2 Differently shaded bars indicate years 2017 and 2018. Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3

Annual changes of world energy supply for years 2000 to 2018 are shown below in chart 3. Charts 1 and 3 combined show that not only does the total energy supplied by fossil fuels continue to dwarf renewables, but the same holds true for the annual growth of these energy sources. Note the increasing trend of fossil fuels since 2015.

Every year energy use increases, & most of the increases come from fossil fuels.

Glen Peters, Research Director at Center for International Climate Research.4
Chart 3. Annual change of world energy supply, 2000 to 2018. Data: Calculated using BP(2019).2 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; and (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3

Chart 4 shows the annual percentage change of each energy source. The upper chart shows the rate of change relative to total energy supply for a given year, and the bottom shows the rate of change of each energy supply in isolation (relative to its own previous annual value). Again note the recent rapid increase in the growth of fossil fuels and stalling renewable growth.

Chart 4. Annual rate of change of world energy supply, 1990 to 2018. Data: Calculated using BP(2019).2 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not carbon-neutral.3
Top: Change of quantity of energy from each source relative to total quantity from all sources, for example:
[Hydro (year[n]) – Hydro (year[n-1])] / Total energy supplied by all sources (year[n-1]).
Bottom: Change of quantity of energy from each energy source relative to previous year (i.e. compared with itself rather than total of energy from all sources), for example:
[Hydro (year[n]) – Hydro (year[n-1])] / Hydro (year[n-1]).

Charts 5 and 6 display world energy supply by share, using IEA data which separately lists energy sources.

Chart 5. World energy supply by share in 2017 (the share of marine energy is too small to show). Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5
Chart 6. World energy supply by share. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

Numerical values are shown below.

Table 1. World energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

There has been little change over 27 years. The share of fossil fuels reduced from 79.2% in 1990 to 77.4% in 2017, while that of non-hydro renewables grew to 2.9%. Between 2010 and 2017, just the increase of energy supplied by fossil fuels (34.5EJ) was almost double all that supplied by non-hydro renewables in 2017 (18.1EJ).

Energy from biofuels and waste consistently grew to reach 9.1% of world energy, which is a concern. In 2017, 92.4% of energy from biofuels and waste was supplied by solid biofuels6 (the remaining 7.6% was supplied by liquid biofuels, biogases and waste). Of that 92.4%, about half (or 4.6% of world energy) was supplied as dung and wood used for cooking and heating7 by about 2.5 billion people.8 9 This causes millions of deaths annually, damages health, and inhibits education and development.10 The other half was supplied as wood pellets and wood chips from forests for thermal power stations. The assessment of carbon emissions from this is a mire, distorted by: (i) incorrect carbon-accountancy that assumes solid biofuels are carbon-neutral, (ii) a lack of regulation, and (iii) deceptive marketing by trade associations and biofuel companies (this is explained further in the post Biofuels).

World fossil fuel and cement CO2 emissions are shown below (all sources of CO2 are shown in chart 8 of the post Greenhouse Gas Emissions). There has been no sustained decline in emissions from any fossil fuel. Emissions from coal are roughly constant, emissions from oil continue to linearly rise, and the linear increasing trend of emissions from gas has undergone a step change.

Chart 7.(a) World fossil fuel and cement CO2 emissions, 1959 – 2019. (b) Fossil fuel CO2 emissions (the energy sector), 1959-2019. Data: Global Carbon Project (2019).11 Projected values used for year 2019, taken from the Global Carbon Project’s Budget 2019 presentation.12

Global emissions from fossil fuels and cement are projected to reach a historic high in 2019 of 36.8 GtCO2.11 12

A measure of carbonisation is the carbon intensity of the energy supply, shown below, which is the mass of carbon dioxide emitted per Joule of energy supplied. The carbon intensity of the world’s energy supply in 2015 equalled that in 1995; humanity wasted two precious decades.

Chart 8. Carbon intensity of energy supply. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

The charts above demonstrate that an ever widening chasm exists between business as usual and a safe climate.

World Energy Consumption

Energy consumption, Yingze Bridge, Taiyuan City, China, May 27, 2013.13

As shown in figure 1 above, energy consumption describes energy after conversions. For example, some energy supplied by coal is converted and consumed as electricity, and the rest is instead combusted and consumed in industrial applications (e.g. steel manufacture) and domestic applications (e.g. cooking).

World energy consumption is shown below. Proportions of coal and gas are shown alongside electricity because, as explained above, not all energy from coal and gas is consumed as electricity.

Chart 9. World energy consumption (TFC), year 2017. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5The dashed segment in the left hand most pie chart represents the equivalent share of electricity if the quantity produced in 2017 was produced within a 100% wind/water/solar (WWS) energy system, serving to demonstrate the remaining change needed for full electrification. The 20.8% in 2017 equates to 48.5% under WWS, as shown. The share of electricity becomes greater because total energy consumption of a 100% WWS system reduces to 42.9% of business-as-usual.14 15 This is due to: (a) using heat pumps for building heat; (b) using electricity for industrial heat; (c) using battery and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; (d) eliminating mining, transportation and processing of fuels, and (e) efficiency improvements. Also note: (i) Non-energy use of energy sources excluded (e.g. oil used for lubrication); (ii) Transport & Distribution Losses include gas distribution, electricity transmission, and coal transport, and (iii) Examples of Electricity Industry Own-Use include energy consumed in coal mines, own consumption in power plants and energy used for oil and gas extraction.16

In 2017, the most recent year of free IEA data, almost two thirds of world energy was consumed directly as fossil fuels (63.7%).17 The world consumed almost twice as much energy from oil than it did from electricity, and two thirds of electricity (64.5%) was generated by fossil fuels.18 83% of electricity reached the end-user, with 17% of world electricity consumed by transport of fuels for electricity generation (e.g. coal), electricity distribution, and by the electricity industry.

The following two charts below show the world’s energy consumption over time by energy source and by economic sector. Oil clearly dominates chart 10. To 2017 there had not been any non-linear increase in the world’s electricity consumption, despite climate change being an existential crisis. Coal consumption was dictated by China’s industrial coal consumption, shown in China’s energy system profile.

Chart 10. World energy consumption by: (a) Energy source; (b) Economic sector. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

The following charts show energy consumption in each economic sector, with gridlines removed for clarity.

Chart 11. Energy consumption in economic sectors. Note: The transport sector includes rail and aviation. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

The share of oil in the transport sector in 2017 was 92%, while electricity increased to reach 1%.

Chart 12 shows electricity generation in detail for 2017, with coal clearly the greatest source. Electricity from wind increased to exceed that from oil, but electricity from oil still exceeded that from solar.

Chart 12. World electricity generation. Data: Calculated using IEA(2019) online free version.5

Less detailed but more recent data is available from BP, and plotted in the charts below. Chart 13 shows shares of electricity generation in 2018.

Chart 13. World electricity generation. Data: BP(2019).2 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Solid Biofuels; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3

Chart 14 and 15 compare world electricity generation for years 2017 and 2018. Although BP classify hydro separately from renewables, it is of course also renewable.

Chart 14. World electricity generation, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).2 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Solid Biofuels; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3
Chart 15. World electricity generation, years 2017 & 2018. Data: BP(2019).2 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Solid Biofuels; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3

Chart 16 shows the change of electricity generation between years 2017 and 2018. The increase in fossil fuelled electricity generation was 9% greater than that from hydro and renewables combined (457 / (128 + 291) = 1.09).

Chart 16. Changes in world electricity generation between years 2017 & 2018. Data: Calculated using BP(2019).2 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal and Solid Biofuels; (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.3

Summary

The carbon intensity of the world’s energy supply in 2015 equaled that in 1995. 20 years was wasted despite international climate negotiations.

In 2017: the world’s energy supply was 77.4% fossil fuelled, 64% of energy was consumed directly as fossil fuels, 20% of energy was consumed as electricity, 65% of electricity was generated by fossil fuels, electricity in the transport sector accounted for 1% and oil 92%, and the rate of energy consumption of oil continued to rapidly increase.

In 2018: the addition of fossil fuelled energy outpaced that from renewables for the third consecutive year (see chart 3), and the increase in fossil fuelled electricity generation was 9% greater than that from hydro and renewables combined.

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/climate/cafe-emissions-rollback-oil-industry.html()
  2. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()()()()()()()()
  3. https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()()()()()()()()
  4. https://twitter.com/peters_glen/status/1149219271236415489()
  5. https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tables?country=WORLD()()()()()()()()
  6. Using IEA’s 2017 biofuels and waste figures from the Renewables and Waste balances table at https://www.iea.org/statistics/, Domestic Supply row for year 2017: % = Primary_Solid_Biofuels / (Municipal_Waste + Industrial_Waste + Primary_Solid_Biofuels + Biogases + Liquid_Biofuels) ()
  7. p. 14, https://www.iea.org/reports/technology-roadmap-delivering-sustainable-bioenergy()
  8. https://books.google.com.au/books?id=AQMi_IO5N84C&lpg=PA34&dq=physical%20energy%20content%20method&pg=PA33#v=onepage&q&f=false()
  9. p. 18 https://www.iea.org/reports/technology-roadmap-delivering-sustainable-bioenergy()
  10. http://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2014/07/17/millions-die-indians-still-cook-wood-dung/()
  11. Global Carbon Project. (2019). Supplemental data of Global Carbon Budget 2019 (Version 1.0) [Data set]. Global Carbon Project, https://www.icos-cp.eu/GCP/2019, download labelled ‘2019 Global Budget v1.0’.()()
  12. https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/19/files/GCP_CarbonBudget_2019.pdf()()
  13. https://abcnews.go.com/International/photos/photos-pollution-china-19628137/image-19628281()
  14. 8.7/20.3 = 42.9%, https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/TimelineDetailed.pdf()
  15. https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/WorldGridIntegration.pdf()
  16. https://www.iea.org/statistics/resources/balancedefinitions/()
  17. 14.9% + 37.8% + 11% = 63.7%()
  18. 38.3% + 3.3% + 22.9% = 64.5%()
Categories
Uncategorized

Antarctica in the Eemian

This page is under construction.

Importantly, the most comprehensive published high-latitude (≥40° S) network of quantified sea surface temperature (SST) estimates suggests an early LIG (∼130 ky) warming of 1.6 ± 0.9 °C relative to present day, providing an upper limit on the sensitivity of the Antarctic ice sheet to ocean temperatures.

For the 2 °C warmer than present day ocean temperature scenario (comparable to reconstructed estimates), with no additional atmospheric warming, our model predicts a contribution to GMSL rise of 3.8 m in the first millennium of forcing. The loss of the Filchner–Ronne Ice Shelf within 200 y of warming triggers a nonlinear response by removing the but- tressing force that stabilizes grounded ice across large parts of the WSE and the EAIS (most notably the Recovery Basin). Ongoing slower ice loss subsequently occurs around the margins of East Antarctica, producing a sustained contribution to sea level rise. Even for relatively cool ocean-forced runs, we find the shelves collapse quickly between the 200-y intervals. Indeed, during the warmer ocean model runs, the shelves disappear too quickly to observe the relevant processes on the timescale covered by the snapshots. For instance, under the scenario of 2 °C linear warming, the ice shelves disappear within 600 y of forcing (when temperatures reached between +0.4 and +0.8 °C).

Indeed, recent work has proposed that if mass loss comparable to recent decades is maintained for as little as 60 y, the WAIS could be irrevocably destabilized over subsequent millennia through the collapse in the Amundsen Sea sector, overcoming any isostatically driven rebound.

Early Last Interglacial ocean warming drove substantial ice mass loss from Antarctica
Chris S. M. Turney, Christopher J. Fogwill, Nicholas R. Golledge, Nicholas P. McKay, Erik van Sebille, Richard T. Jones, David Etheridge, MauroRubino, David P. Thornton, Siwan M. Davies, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Zoë A. Thomas, Michael I. Bird, Niels C. Munksgaard, Mika Kohno, JohnWoodward, Kate Winter, Laura S. Weyrich, Camilla M. Rootes, HelenMillman, Paul G. Albert, Andres Rivera, Tas van Ommen, Mark Curran, Andrew Moy, Stefan Rahmstorf, Kenji Kawamura, Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Michael E. Weber, Christina J. Manning, Jennifer Young, Alan Cooper
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Feb 2020, 201902469; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1902469117
https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/02/10/1902469117

Categories
Climate Crisis

Our Current Path

Chart 1 shows we are still carbonising, and chart 2 shows the seperate emissions sources.

Chart 1. World fossil fuel and cement CO2 emissions, 1959 – 2019. Data: Global Carbon Project (2019).1 Projected values shown for year 2019, copied from the Global Carbon Project’s Budget 2019 presentation.2
Chart 2. World CO2 emissions, 1959-2019 (1959-2018 for Land use Change). Data: Global Carbon Project (2019).1 Projected values shown for year 2019, copied from the Global Carbon Project’s Budget 2019 presentation.2

Chart 3 shows that ‘every year energy use increases, & most of the increases come from fossil fuels.’3

Chart 3. Annual change of world energy supply, 2000 to 2018. Data: BP(2019).4 Note: (i) BP’s definition of Renewables is energy supplied by Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Solid Biofuels & ‘Other’; and (ii) BP does not fully account for biofuels; and (iii) Solid biofuels may not be carbon-neutral.5

In the absence of policies global warming is expected, to reach 4.1°C – 4.8°C above pre-industrial by the end of the century. The emissions that drive this warming are often called Baseline scenarios (‘Baselines’ in the above figure) and are taken from the IPCC AR5 Working Group III. Current policies presently in place around the world are projected to reduce baseline emissions and result in about 3.3°C warming above pre-industrial levels. The unconditional pledges and targets that governments have made, including NDCs as of December 2018, would limit warming to about 3.0°C above pre-industrial levels, or in probabilistic terms, likely (66% or greater chance) limit warming below 3.2°C. This result is similar to our estimate last year, reflecting the fact that little has changed in terms of government commitments and targets in the past 12 months.

2100 warming projections, Climate Action Tracker, accessed Feb 2019. 6 Note that NDCs are “Nationally Determined Contributions” and detail the supposed intention of each country to reduce its emissions.7
2100 warming projections, Climate Action Tracker6

Clearly, for any chance of avoiding evermore severe and frequent climate impacts, and the collapse of civilisation, not only must rapid decarbonisation begin immediately on a global scale, but also massive government investment in research and development of CDR. Current capitalist economic priorities and fossil fuel extraction must cease.

Humanity’s CO2 emissions: (i) are currently trapping two thirds of the energy causing global warming, (ii) are the only rapidly increasing contributor, (iii) almost solely determine our long term warming commitment, and (iv) continue to grow with no peak in sight. Half of all CO2 ever emitted has been emitted recently and almost all by the world’s energy system.

https://www.worldenergydata.org/ghgs/
  1. Global Carbon Project. (2019). Supplemental data of Global Carbon Budget 2019 (Version 1.0) [Data set]. Global Carbon Project, https://www.icos-cp.eu/GCP/2019, download labelled ‘2019 Global Budget v1.0’.()()
  2. https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/19/files/GCP_CarbonBudget_2019.pdf()()
  3. Glen Peters, Research Director at Center for International Climate Research, https://twitter.com/peters_glen/status/1149219271236415489()
  4. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()
  5. https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()
  6. https://climateactiontracker.org/global/temperatures/()()
  7. https://unfccc.int/process/the-paris-agreement/nationally-determined-contributions/ndc-registry()
Categories
Climate Crisis

350 ppm

Dr Hansen has published many studies, in conjunction with other scientists about climate change.1

Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions. Dr. Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and was designated by Time Magazine in 2006 as one of the 100 most influential people on Earth. He has received numerous awards including the Carl-Gustaf Rossby and Roger Revelle Research Medals, the Sophie Prize and the Blue Planet Prize. Dr. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power, for identifying ineffectual policies as greenwash, and for outlining actions that the public must take to protect the future of young people and other life on our planet.

James E. Hansen, Feb 2019, CV2

Hansen makes the point that 1.5℃ is not safe because it’s warmer than anytime of the Holocene, and as warm as the Eemian when seas were 6–9m higher. Instead, Hansen prescribes changes needed to reduce atmospheric CO2 to less than 350 ppm, in order to limit global temperature close to the Holocene range.

Chart 1. Global surface temperature relative to peak Holocene temperature (not preindustrial temperature), published in 2011, based on ocean cores.3 When this was published, peak Holocene temperature was about +0.8℃.4

Dutton et al. (2015) conclude that the best estimate for Eemian temperature is +1℃ relative to preindustrial. Consistent with these estimates and the discussion of Masson-Delmotte et al. (2013), we assume that maximum Eemian temperature was +1℃ relative to preindustrial with an uncertainty of at least 0.5℃.

These considerations raise the question of whether 2℃, or even 1.5℃, is an appropriate target to protect the well-being of young people and future generations. Indeed, Hansen et al. (2008) concluded that “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, …CO2 will need to be reduced… to at most 350 ppm, but likely less than that”, and further “if the present overshoot of the target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects”. 

A danger of 1.5 or 2℃ targets is that they are far above the Holocene temperature range. If such temperature levels are allowed to long exist they will spur “slow” amplifying feed-backs (Hansen et al., 2013b; Rohling et al., 2013; Masson-Delmotte et al., 2013), which have potential to run out of humanity’s control. The most threatening slow feedback likely is ice sheet melt and consequent significant sea level rise, as occurred in the Eemian, but there are other risks in pushing the climate system far out of its Holocene range. Methane release from thawing permafrost and methane hydrates is another potential feedback, for example, but the magnitude and timescale of this is unclear (O’Connor et al., 2010; Quiquet et al., 2015).

Here we examine the fossil fuel emission reductions required to restore atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm or less, so as to keep global temperature close to the Holocene range, in addition to the canonical 1.5 and 2℃ targets.

Hansen et al., 2017, Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions5

Chart 2 shows a range of pathways, and three in (b) return global surface temperature to within our range of uncertainty about the Holocene maximum (0.5℃ to 0.75℃).

Chart 2. Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions.6

Note the units for CO2 extraction (i.e. CDR) above are of units peta-grams of carbon (PgC). This is equivalent to billions of tons of carbon (GtC). To compare these quantities with those from the previous section, and so convert GtC to GtCO2, they must be multiplied by 44/12 (the ratio of the molecular weight of CO2 to C).

The green pathway shown demands 869GtCO2 and a CO2 reduction rate of -3%/yr (i.e. CO2 emissions in 2030 reduced to two thirds of 2020 level). This is very similar to the IPCC’s pathway 1.5°C-with-low-overshoot that prescribes an annual CO2 reduction rate of -4.5%/yr and CDR of about 800 GtCO2, but Hansen & Co state the global surface temperature in 2100 would lower, to less than +1°C.

The blue pathway is more precautionary by relying more on CO2 reduction (-6%/yr) and less on CDR (153PgC or 561 GtCO2). This quantity of CDR still demands an annual quantity of CDR removal about the size of the global ocean by 2100. This now seems an inescapable requirement.

  1. http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/publications.shtml()
  2. http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/hansencv_201804.pdf()
  3. p. 2, Fig 1,Hansen, E. and July, M.S., 2011. 1 Earth’s Climate History: Implications for Tomorrow, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=8A90600FD57AFB297D594453B4B98A18?doi=10.1.1.702.5478&rep=rep1&type=pdf()
  4. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/press-office/news/weather-and-climate/2018/2019-global-temperature-forecast()
  5. Hansen, J., Sato, M., Kharecha, P., von Schuckmann, K., Beerling, D. J., Cao, J., Marcott, S., Masson-Delmotte, V., Prather, M. J., Rohling, E. J., Shakun, J., Smith, P., Lacis, A., Russell, G., and Ruedy, R.: Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions, Earth Syst. Dynam., 8, 577-616, https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-8-577-2017, 2017. https://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/8/577/2017/()
  6. Hansen, J., Sato, M., Kharecha, P., von Schuckmann, K., Beerling, D. J., Cao, J., Marcott, S., Masson-Delmotte, V., Prather, M. J., Rohling, E. J., Shakun, J., Smith, P., Lacis, A., Russell, G., and Ruedy, R.: Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions, Earth Syst. Dynam., 8, 577-616, https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-8-577-2017, 2017.()
Categories
Climate Crisis

1.5˚C

To hold global average temperature steady, emissions need to reach ‘net zero’. Net zero emissions are achieved when emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere are balanced by anthropogenic removals.

An increase in global average temperature of e.g. 1.5°C corresponds to a limited net amount of CO2 being emitted. This amount of CO2 is usually referred to as the carbon budget for 1.5°C.

The rate at which CO2 will be emitted determines how many years remain until emissions must reach ‘net-zero’.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C without overspending the corresponding carbon budget would require very fast changes in electricity production, transport, construction, agriculture and industry.

IPCC. 2018. Understanding the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.1

Net zero emissions requires both rapid emission reductions (also known as decarbonisation), AND anthropogenic removals (also known as “negative emission technologies” (NETs) or “carbon dioxide removal” (CDR)). Both are now required because: (i) civilisation has left the task of decarbonisation recklessly late; (ii) there is a limit to the maximum rate of decarbonisation that civilisation can manage; and (iii) there is a limit to the minimum level of annual emissions that civilisation can manage (also known as a “carbon-floor”, that must be perpetually offset).

A typical future idealistic future CO2 emission scenario is shown below.

Figure 1. Net zero emissions concept. IPCC. 2018. Understanding the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.1

The IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5°C presents the six future emission categories (or pathway groups) shown below (note the worryingly small probabilities of success associated with each).

Table 1. IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.2

For each of the pathways above, there are corresponding prescribed future rates of decarbonisation and associated increasing CDR. Placing CDR aside for the moment, it’s useful to consider historic examples of decarbonisation. There have been three notable examples: France and Sweden in the 1980s due to an increased supply of nuclear energy, and Russia in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As shown below, the decarbonisation in France occurred between 1979 and 1988, and at a rate equivalent to a linear decline of -3.25%/yr of the initial level of emissions in 1979. Sweden managed -5.6%/yr3 and Russia endured -5.9%.

Chart 1. CO2 emitted by France with cursor placed at the end of decarbonisation period in 1988.4
Chart 2. Rate of decarbonisation in France between 1979 and 1988.4

Prescribed decarbonisation rates for the next decade can be calculated using the table below and compared to the historic reductions above.

Table 2. IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.5

The level of CO2 from fossil fuels and industry (net) in 2019 was 36.8GtCO2.6 Under the assumption that the prescribed decarbonisation for the future pathway 1.5°C-with-low-overshoot begins in 2021, and that emissions in 2020 equal those in 2019, then CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry would need to decline from 36.8GtCO2 to 20.6GtCO2 in a decade (refer to the table above). This is equivalent to an annual linear decline of -4.4% of the original amount each year, as calculated below.

Chart 3. Decarbonisation of the IPCC pathway 1.5°C-with-low-overshoot: (a) Calculation of annual emissions for years 2020–2030 using the figure from Table 2 above, (b) Chart of annual emissions, and (c) chart (b) placed into historical context by appending world CO2 emissions from fossil fuel and industry. Data: Global Carbon Project (2019).7

While this rate of decarbonisation is similar to that which occurred in France, Sweden and Russia, the scale of these examples should be considered: During their respective decarbonisation, France was responsible for 2.1% of global CO2 emissions,8 Sweden 0.4%9 and Russia 9%.10 The decarbonisation that occurred in Russia is the only example that was significant at rate and scale, but this caused hardship, riots, massacres and even a decline in the life expectancy of males from 65 down to 58 years.11 A global decarbonisation at any rate for a decade is without historic precedent. Alternatively, the pathway 1.5°C-with-high-overshoot, that has a median warming of +1.7˚C and a 20% chance of exceeding +2°C12 demands a global decarbonisation rate to 2030 of -2.7%/yr. This rate would need to be enacted in 2021, despite civilisation having carbonised at about this rate since year 2000, as shown below, effectively somehow being an emissions-backflip.12

Chart 4. Recent change of emissions: (a) Calculation of rate of change of emissions for years 2000–2018, (b) Chart of annual emissions. Data: Global Carbon Project (2019).7

Even the pathway Higher-2°C, that has 40% chance of exceeding 2°C, and a 13% chance of exceeding 2.5°C as early as 207512 requires immediate decarbonisation at a rate of -1.6%/yr.

Chart 5. Decarbonisation of the IPCC pathway Higher-2°C: (a) Calculation of annual emissions for years 2020–2030 using the figure from Table 2 above, (b) Chart of annual emissions, and (c) chart (b) placed into historical context by appending world CO2 emissions from fossil fuel and industry. Data: Global Carbon Project (2019).7

Therefore even the rapid and drastic decarbonisation shown in Chart 5 above, along with the prescribed concurrent CDR detailed further below, leaves us with a 40% chance of warming the planet to a temperature that hasn’t occurred for around 3–5 million years.13

In the mid-Pliocene, 3–5 million years ago, the last time that the Earth’s atmosphere contained 400ppm of CO2, global mean surface temperature was 2–3℃ warmer than today, the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melted and even some of the East Antarctic ice was lost, leading to sea levels that were 10–20m higher than they are today.

WMO, 2017, State of the Global Climate in 2017.14

Decarbonisation is only “half the story”. Pathways to limit warming become more challenging once the prescribed scale and rate of concurrent carbon dioxide removal (CDR) is considered.

All analysed pathways limiting warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot use CDR to some extent to neutralize emissions from sources for which no mitigation measures have been identified and, in most cases, also to achieve net negative emissions to return global warming to 1.5°C following a peak (high confidence). The longer the delay in reducing CO2 emissions towards zero, the larger the likelihood of exceeding 1.5°C, and the heavier the implied reliance on net negative emissions after mid-century to return warming to 1.5°C (high confidence).

IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.15

The CDR required for pathways Below-1.5°C and 1.5°C-with-low-overshoot is shown in Chart 6; (a) shows the annual quantity of CDR to be removed each year, and (b) the cumulative quantity over time.

Chart 6. Prescribed CDR for pathways Below-1.5°C and 1.5°C-with-low-overshoot, IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C16

640–950 GtCO2 removal is required for a likely chance of limiting end-of-century warming to 1.5 °C. In the absence of strengthened pre-2030 pledges, long-term CO2 commitments are increased by 160–330 GtCO2, further jeopardizing achievement of the 1.5 °C goal and increasing dependence on CO2 removal.

Residual fossil CO2 emissions in 1.5–2 °C pathways.17

The scale of the decarbonisation challenge to meet the Paris Agreement is underplayed in the public arena. It will require precipitous emissions reductions within 40 years and a new carbon sink on the scale of the ocean sink. Even then, the world is extremely likely to overshoot. A catastrophic failure of policy, for example, waiting another decade for transformative policy and full commitments to fossil-free economies, will have irreversible and deleterious repercussions for humanity’s remaining time on Earth. Only a global zero carbon roadmap will put the world on a course to phase-out greenhouse gas emissions and create the essential carbon sinks for Earth-system stability, without which, world prosperity is not possible.

Rockström, J. et al. (2016), The world’s biggest gamble.18

As shown below, the global ocean absorbed about 9GtCO2/yr of anthropogenic emissions over the last decade, and the land carbon sink about 12GtCO2/yr. (Interestingly, also shown is the carbon budget imbalance of 2GtCO2/yr; this is a gap in our understanding as stated in figure 7 and amounts to about 5% of our total emissions).19 Therefore, the quantity of annual CDR by 2050, prescribed for the pathways Below-1.5°C and 1.5°C-with-low-overshoot, is equivalent to an additional carbon sink of the size of a global ocean. By 2100 this is just under 1.7 global oceans, as shown by the right hand axis of Chart 10(a) above.

Figure 2. Fate of anthropogenic CO2 emissions (2008–2017)20

CDR deployed at scale is unproven, and reliance on such technology is a major risk in the ability to limit warming to 1.5°C.

IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.21

Approaches under consideration include the enhancement of terrestrial and coastal carbon storage in plants and soils such as afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon enhancement, and other conservation, restoration, and management options for natural and managed land and coastal ecosystems. Biochar sequestration provides an additional route for terrestrial carbon storage. Other approaches are concerned with storing atmospheric carbon dioxide in geological formations. They include the combination of biomass use for energy production with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air capture with storage (DACCS) using chemical solvents and sorbents. Further approaches investigate the mineralization of atmospheric carbon dioxide, including enhanced weathering of rocks. A fourth group of approaches is concerned with the sequestration of carbon dioxide in the oceans, for example by means of ocean alkalinization. The costs, CDR potential and environmental side effects of several of these measures are increasingly investigated and compared in the literature, but large uncertainties remain, in particular concerning the feasibility and impact of large-scale deployment of CDR measures.

IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.22

Note that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not a form of CDR because it does not remove CO2 from the atmosphere; instead its aim, should it ever come to fruition, is to lower the emission of CO2 from fossil fuelled energy generation, allowing it to be produced without an impact on the remaining carbon budget.

A variety of pilot projects failed in the past. One was a joint effort by one of the largest U.S. utilities, American Electric Power, and the Energy Department23 to capture 15 percent of emissions from coal-fired power plants. It closed down after two years. Another carbon capture project attached to a new coal-fired power plant in Mississippi ran into so many technical problems and billions of dollars in cost overruns that after six years its owners abandoned the carbon capture project and converted the plant to burn natural gas for power generation.

Dec 2018, The Washington Post, ‘Carbon removal is now a thing’: Radical fixes get a boost at climate talks.24

Our long-term warming commitment is determined by the quantity of long-lived greenhouse gasses emitted. Therefore the specific warming limits of 1.5˚C and 2˚C have corresponding carbon budgets, expressed in quantities of tonnes of CO2. The IPCC budgets include forcings (i.e. warming contributions) from nonCO2 gases in their range of budget uncertainties.

The size of the remaining budgets are extremely small relative to our annual emissions, suggesting that technological change has a limited role in the short term. Social change is also required, such as carbon pricing and or rationing of carbon.

The remaining carbon budget from 2018 onwards is 580GtCO2 for a 50% chance of keeping warming below 1.5C. This is less than 15 years of global emissions at current rates.25

So, what does that mean?

This means that if we start reducing emissions steeply now and by the time we reach net-zero levels we have not emitted more than 580GtCO2, our best scientific understanding tells us have we expect a one-in-two chance that warming would be kept to 1.5C.

Moreover, if we want to be sure that this is also true until the end of the century, we’d have to aim to emit only 480GtCO2 until we reach net-zero instead. This is under 12 years of current emissions.

‘A new approach for understanding the remaining carbon budget’, Dr Joeri Rogelj, Prof Piers Forster, CarbonBrief 2019.26

The remaining carbon budgets from 2020 onwards are listed below in table 3, calculated by subtracting the annual emissions of years 2018 and 2019 (shown in the supporting tables), away from the IPCC’s budgets shown in table 3. Also shown are the same remaining budgets with 50% of total uncertainties applied in either direction (50% was chosen because it would be unlikely for all uncertainties to align at an extremity). Note that 50th percentile of climate sensitivity refers to the most likely value.

Table 3. Remaining carbon budgets from 2020 onwards.

Table 1 shows the IPCC’s remaining carbon budget for 1.5˚C may be spent in 12 years at the current rate of emissions, but if 50% of total uncertainties are applied in either direction, the same budget is spent sometime in the next 2 to 23 years. The usefulness of IPCC budgets is questionable because associated with each budget are very large uncertainties and warming that will trigger rapid and large sea level rise. The exceedance of any budget doesn’t herald the end of our chance to limit and reduce warming. Instead it should be a very loud alarm that reminds us our greenhouse gas emissions remain dangerously excessive and unmanaged.

In summary, the IPCC’s pathway 1.5°C-with-low-overshoot prescribes the world decarbonise at a rate 1.6 times faster than it has recently carbonised (-4.4%/2.5%), and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) on the scale of the global ocean operational by 2050, and 1.7 oceans by 2100. In year 2100, this pathway has a 28% chance of exceeding 1.5°C, and a 7% chance of exceeding 2°C.27

SUPPORTING INFORMATION –
Table 2. Supporting information for table 3.
Table 5. IPCC remaining carbon budgets from 2018 onwards.28
  1. https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=5188()()
  2. p. 100, Table 2.1, IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/()
  3. Territorial emissions in 1979 = 85MtCO2, 1984 = 57MtCO2(ref: http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/en/CO2-emissions), (57 – 85)/(1984 – 1979) = -5.6%/yr of original amount.()
  4. http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/en/CO2-emissions()()
  5. p. 119, Table 2.4, IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/()
  6. https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/19/files/GCP_CarbonBudget_2019.pdf()
  7. Global Carbon Project. (2019). Supplemental data of Global Carbon Budget 2019 (Version 1.0) [Data set]. Global Carbon Project, https://www.icos-cp.eu/GCP/2019, download labelled ‘2019 Global Budget v1.0’.()()()
  8. In 1984 France emitted 407MtCO2 and the World 19,217MtCO2 (refer http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/en/CO2-emissions), 407/19,217 = 2.1%.()
  9. In 1981 Sweden emitted 69MtCO2 and the World 18,787MtCO2, 69/18,787 = 0.4%.()
  10. In 1992 Russia emitted 1,993MtCO2 and the World 22,195MtCO2, 1,993/22,195 = 9%.()
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_the_Soviet_Union()
  12. p. 2A-28, Table 2.SM.12, Huppmann, D., Kriegler, E. and Mundaca, L., 2. SM Mitigation pathways compatible with 1.5 C in the context of sustainable development–Supplementary Material. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/11/sr15_chapter2_supplementary_materials.pdf()()()
  13. WMO, 2017, State of the Global Climate in 2017, http://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/climate/wmo-statement-state-of-global-climate()
  14. WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2017, https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/climate/wmo-statement-state-of-global-climate()
  15. p. 34, IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/()
  16. Calculated using prescribed levels of annual CDR addition shown in p. 128, fig 2.13, IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press.https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/()
  17. Luderer, G., Vrontisi, Z., Bertram, C., Edelenbosch, O.Y., Pietzcker, R.C., Rogelj, J., De Boer, H.S., Drouet, L., Emmerling, J., Fricko, O. and Fujimori, S., 2018. Residual fossil CO 2 emissions in 1.5–2° C pathways. Nature Climate Change8(7), p.626. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0198-6, https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/365540/s41558_018_0198_6.pdf?sequence=1()
  18. p. 1, Rockström, J. et al. (2016), The world’s biggest gamble, Earth’s Future, 4, 465 – 470, doi:10.1002/2016EF000392. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2016EF000392()
  19. On average over 2008 – 2017, emissions from fossil fuels and industry were 34.4GtCO2/yr and from land use change 5.3GtCO2/yr, (1.9 / (34.4 + 5.3) = 4.7%) ()
  20. https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/18/presentation.htm()
  21. p. 96, IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/()
  22. p. 121, IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/download/()
  23. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/10/AR2009081002709.html()
  24. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/carbon-removal-is-now-a-thing-radical-fixes-get-a-boost-at-climate-talks/2018/12/11/d22efd40-fd01-11e8-83c0-b06139e540e5_story.html?utm_term=.1aac8acdcff4()
  25. https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-fossil-fuel-emissions-in-2018-increasing-at-fastest-rate-for-seven-years()
  26. https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-a-new-approach-for-understanding-the-remaining-carbon-budget()
  27. p. 2A-28, Table 2.SM.12, row ‘1.5°C-low-OS’, column ‘Geophysical characteristics in 2100’, Huppmann, D., Kriegler, E. and Mundaca, L., 2. SM Mitigation pathways compatible with 1.5 C in the context of sustainable development–Supplementary Material, https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/11/sr15_chapter2_supplementary_materials.pdf()
  28. p. 108, table 2.2, IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/()