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The World’s Dependence on Fossil Fuels Continues

July 13, 2023
Despite efforts to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, 82% of all energy consumption involved oil, natural gas or coal in 2022.

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Despite efforts to reduce the world’s dependency on fossil fuels, oil, natural gas and coal were the fuels of choice around the globe last year. In the recently released 72nd edition - Statistical Review of World Energy, the Energy Institute says this occurred despite governmental and organizational efforts to transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy sources.

In its report, the Energy Institute highlights these five key themes:

  • Post-COVID, transport fuel demand patterns continued to return, but with major variations across geographies and fuel types. China was an outlier, the Energy Institute says, namely because jet fuel remained significantly below its pre-COVID level, due to the country’s “zero COVID” policy.
  • Global primary energy consumption grew by around 1% in 2022, taking it to nearly 3% above the 2019 pre-COVID level. Within this, gas fell by 3% and renewables (excluding hydro) increased by 13%. The dominance of fossil fuels was largely unchanged at almost 82% of total consumption.
  • Global energy-related emissions continued to grow, up 0.8%, despite strong growth in renewables.
  • The Ukraine conflict and curtailment of Russian supplies to Europe precipitated record international gas prices in Europe (a threefold increase) and Asia (twofold), and unprecedented shifts in global oil and gas trade flows.
  • The strong pace of deployment of renewables in the power sector continued, driven by solar and wind. It says 2022 saw the largest ever increase in wind and solar new build capacity. Together they reached a record 12% share of power generation, with solar up 25% and wind up 13.5%. Renewables (excluding hydro) met 84% of net electricity demand growth in 2022.

“As the world emerged from the pandemic and its impact on demand, 2022 witnessed energy markets again in crisis, with the Ukraine conflict upending assumptions about supply around the world,” said the Energy Institute’s Chief Executive Nick Wayth, in a press release. “That in turn precipitated a price crisis and profound cost-of-living pressures across many economies.”

“The EI Statistical Review shows how the world’s energy markets struggled to respond to the crisis, how the trade and flow of energy contorted and how vulnerable our economies are to supply and price shocks,” Wayth added.

A Glint of Hope

In reviewing the Energy Institute’s latest findings, David Blackmon, an energy-related public policy analyst/consultant, identified at least one glint of positivity: the share of renewables, excluding hydropower, rose to 14.42% of global power generation. This represents an increase of roughly 11% from its share in 2021.

“That 2022 percentage significantly exceeded nuclear, which came in at 9% of the mix. By comparison, coal provided 35%, a slight drop from 2021, with natural gas at the aforementioned 23%,” Blackmon writes in Forbes. Another bit of positive news where emissions are concerned was the finding that carbon emissions from natural gas flaring dropped by 3.8 percent.

“As has been the case throughout the 21st century, efforts by western governments to shift the global energy mix away from fossil fuels again failed to overcome the pace of global demand growth [in] 2022,” Blackmon writes. “While the geographical source of demand growth continues to shift from OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] to non-OECD nations, the pace of growth remains strong as developing countries seek to grow their own economies.”

About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.

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