By - Jim Vess

Worldwide coal and natural gas consumption rose in 2017, so have carbon dioxide emissions

Energize Weekly, August 21, 2019

World energy production – spurred by coal and natural gas – was up 2.2 percent in 2017 to 14,035 million tons oil equivalent (Mtoe) when compared to 2016, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Coal and natural gas output were each up by more than 120 Mtoe in 2017. Coal’s share was 1 percent higher than it was in 1970. Renewable energy, excluding biofuels and hydro, was up more than 30 Mtoe.

Oil production was stable, and all told, fossil fuels accounted for 81 percent of all energy production for the year, IEA’s “World Energy Balances” report said.

In 2018, coal output fell, and renewable resources continue to increase. Still, the IEA said “low-carbon energy sources did not keep pace with gas growth, resulting in a 0.5 percent increase in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.”

In the 2010-2016 period, carbon emissions dropped an average of 1 percent a year thanks to a combination of energy efficiency improvements and widespread development of renewable energy sources. But in 2018, emissions started to grow again in the 36 developed countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The emissions increases were driven primarily by the United States, Canada and Korea. Several countries, including Japan, Germany and France, posted net decreases in emissions.

In 2018, natural gas overtook coal as the top fuel for electricity generation worldwide, with more than 3,000 Terawatt-hours (TWh) generated. Coal and renewables each accounted for a little less than 2,900 TWh.

Power generation was responsible for around half of the OECD growth in natural gas supply.

The OECD’s share of total primary energy supplies (TPES) dropped to 38 percent in 2017 from 61.1 percent in 1971 and is now roughly equal to the share of non-OECD Asian countries, where demand has grown sevenfold.

As for energy production, the IEA said fuels output is highly concentrated with half the production in about five countries.

China produced almost half of world coal in 2017 and almost a third of the hydro. The United States and France together produced almost 50 percent of all nuclear power. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States accounted for just under 40 percent of the world crude oil. Russia and the U.S. also produced 40 percent of world natural gas.

“The only notable change in energy production in 2017 compared to 2016 is that Canada replaced Qatar as the 4th largest producer of natural gas,” the IEA said.

Oil remained the world’s dominant fuel, though its share of TPES dropped to 32 percent in 2017 from 44 percent in 1971, while natural gas’ share rose to 22 percent from 16 percent.

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