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 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%()