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June 8, 2011 6:20 pm
China overtook the US as the world’s largest consumer of energy last year, during which global consumption growth was at its highest rate since 1973, according to the BP statistical review of world energy.
The BP publication shows that China accounted for 20.3 per cent of consumption, surpassing the US, with a 19 per cent share of the global total.
Consumption growth reached 5.6 per cent last year and demand for all forms of energy grew strongly, said BP, with energy consumption in both mature OECD economies and non-OECD countries growing at above-average rates as the economic recovery gathered pace.
But the exceptionally strong demand and increased use of fossil fuels is “bad news” for carbon dioxide emissions from energy use, which rose at their fastest rate since 1969, said Christoph Rühl, BP’s chief economist.
Globally, energy consumption grew more rapidly than the economy, meaning the energy intensity of economic activity rose for a second consecutive year. “Energy intensity – the amount of energy used for one unit of GDP – grew at the fastest rate since 1970,” said Mr Rühl.
Demand in OECD countries grew 3.5 per cent, the strongest growth since 1984, although consumption is roughly in line with that seen 10 years ago. Non-OECD consumption grew 7.5 per cent and was 63 per cent above the 2000 level.
Oil remains the world’s leading fuel, at 33.6 per cent of global energy consumption, but it lost market share for the 11th consecutive year. Global oil consumption grew by 2.7m barrels a day or 3.1 per cent – the strongest growth since 2004. China contributed the largest national increment, its consumption of oil rising by 860,000 barrels/day or 10.4 per cent. The US, Russia and Brazil also recorded large increments.
The big winner, however, was natural gas. According to the review, global gas consumption rose 7.4 per cent, the strongest volumetric gain on record. Non-OECD economies expanded their share to more than 51 per cent; China solidified its role as Asia’s largest gas market. But OECD markets also grew rapidly, 6.4 per cent, with consumption attaining all-time highs.
Coal also saw strong demand, with consumption growing the fastest among all fossil fuels. Consumption grew above average in 2010, by 7.6 per cent to 3.6bn tonnes of oil equivalent. China increased its coal use by 10 per cent to 1.7bn tonnes of oil equivalent.
However, despite the demand for fossil fuels, renewables added more than petroleum-based products to the world’s primary energy consumption growth in the five years through 2010.
Wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels used for power generation and transport contributed about 1.8 per cent of global primary energy supply last year. At the same time, China became the largest wind-power generator, overtaking the US and accounting for about 48 per cent of all new capacity.
“Over the last 10 years, their share has almost trebled,” said Mr Rühl. “Over the last five years, their contribution to primary energy growth was almost 10 per cent. That is, higher than the contribution of petroleum-based products.”
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