Oil major BP has said that energy markets across the globe are witnessing a significant transition, powered by renewables at the expense of coal.
Yesterday the firm released its annual Statistical Review of World Energy, which compares and contrasts energy consumption and generation throughout the world.
While global energy consumption continued to grow – albeit marginally at just 1% year-on-year – renewables accounted for nearly one-third of all growth in power generation.
Within that renewables growth wind accounted for more than 50% and solar nearly one-third, representing how adoption of the two cheapest forms of renewables was exploding worldwide and highlighted in the following chart.
BP group chief economist Spencer Dale noted: “It took around 20 years for the share of countries producing a sizeable amount of wind power to increase from 15% to 75%; solar achieved the same degree of diffusion in less than half that time.
“These different rates of diffusion reflect the different characteristics of the technologies: the more modular nature of solar power, together with its steeper learning curve has allowed it to spread more quickly.”
But BP’s report also revealed this growth to be largely driven by Asia Pacific and China in particular, which replaced the US as the largest producer of renewable power. In fact, the growth of renewables in Europe and Eurasia slowed to just 1.5%, with UK growth almost flat lining.
Nevertheless, BP chief exec Bob Dudley lauded the progression witnessed in the UK power market as coal production slumped to new lows.
“The influence of the energy transition was particularly marked in the contrasting fortunes of coal and renewable energy.
“Indeed, coal production and consumption in the UK completed an entire cycle, falling back to levels last seen almost 200 years ago around the time of the Industrial Revolution, with the UK power sector recording its first ever coal-free day in April of this year. In contrast, renewable energy globally led by wind and solar power grew strongly, helped by continuing technological advances,” he said.
The shift away from coal was also picked up by Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, who said: “Striking in this year’s data is the scale of the shift away from coal, especially in China and the USA. The US saw an astonishing 9% fall in demand, while Chinese hunger for energy is being tempered by moves to a more sustainable growth pathway and the rapid expansion of renewables, which spells even further trouble for coal in the years to come.
“On a global scale, the surge in renewable generation puts it within touching distance of overtaking nuclear power as a major contributor to world energy use.
“Back in the UK, continued declines in both total energy consumption and carbon emissions while the economy continues to grow continues the British success story seen in the 25 years since the UN climate convention was signed, in curbing greenhouse gas emissions while growing faster than our competitors.”