Global energy consumption soars amid rising emissions

image is EC Clean Energy

In 2023, global primary energy consumption hit an all-time high for the second consecutive year, mainly driven by non-OECD countries, where rapid industrialisation and urbanisation fuelled a growing demand for energy, according to the latest edition of the Energy Institute's Statistical Review of World Energy.

Despite a slight decline from the previous year, fossil fuels continued to dominate the global energy mix, accounting for 81.5%. The increasing reliance on energy resulted in record greenhouse gas emissions, exceeding 40 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, underscoring the environmental challenges associated with current consumption patterns.

Regional energy dynamics

Regionally, the energy landscape displayed diverse trends. The Asia Pacific region emerged as the leader in global demand, constituting 47% of total consumption. China, India, and Indonesia were at the forefront of this growth, reflecting their burgeoning economies and population growth, the report highlights. Even with the prevalent use of fossil fuels, the region also witnessed significant advancements in renewable energy, particularly in solar and wind power. According to the Energy Institute, this shift towards renewables marks a critical step towards reducing the carbon footprint and addressing climate change.

North America experienced a notable transformation, transitioning from a net energy importer to an exporter. This shift was primarily driven by substantial increases in oil and gas production, particularly from shale resources. However, the region also saw a 1% decrease in electricity demand, attributed to enhanced energy efficiency measures and changing consumption behaviours, the institute’s data revealed. This decline in demand highlights the potential for sustainable practices to mitigate energy consumption without compromising economic growth.

Europe, on the other hand, remained a net importer of energy, grappling with deficits in oil and gas production. The continent's energy consumption saw a decline, influenced by stringent efficiency regulations and a growing emphasis on sustainable practices. Europe's commitment to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and enhancing energy efficiency demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing the global energy crisis.

In contrast, Africa and South Asia presented a different narrative, characterised by low per capita energy consumption but significant potential for future growth, the report said. These regions face substantial challenges in ensuring energy access, with millions of people still lacking basic electricity. Addressing this issue is crucial for fostering economic development and improving the quality of life for the populations in these regions. The focus on expanding renewable energy infrastructure in these areas could play a pivotal role in bridging the energy access gap.

The growth of renewable energy continued unabated in 2023, driven by the competitive costs of solar and wind power. Renewable energy generation reached new heights, accounting for 30% of global electricity production. Southern and Central America led the charge, with renewables constituting 72% of their energy mix, according to the institute. This progress underscores the increasing viability and appeal of renewable energy sources. However, despite these advancements, coal remained the dominant source for power generation globally, highlighting the persistent challenges in transitioning away from fossil fuels.

Energy security and geopolitical impacts

Energy security emerged as a critical concern, with international trade in oil, gas, and coal increasing by 53% since 2000. Geopolitical events, such as sanctions on Russia, have had significant repercussions on energy supply chains and market dynamics, the data highlighted. These developments underscore the intricate relationship between energy policies and global politics, necessitating a comprehensive approach to ensure stable and secure energy supplies.

The Energy Institute's Statistical Review of World Energy paints a complex picture of the global energy landscape. While there are encouraging signs of growth in renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency, the dominance of fossil fuels and the associated environmental challenges persist.

The transition to sustainable energy systems is progressing, albeit at a gradual pace, with varied regional narratives shaping the overall global energy outlook. As the world grapples with the dual challenges of meeting rising energy demands and addressing climate change, the insights from the review highlight the critical need for balanced and forward-thinking energy policies.


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