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BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2021: Decreased primary energy consumption and carbon emissions

The 70th annual edition of the BP Statistical review of World Energy provides an overview  on energy developments for 2020 and characterizes this year as «one of the most turbulent years the world has ever seen» due to the impact of the global pandemic. The review notes significant increase in renewable energy with solar power achieving the largest growth in history. At the same time, there was a decline in the rate of primary energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from energy use.

The overall global primary energy consumption fell by 4.5%, caused mainly by oil.  The largest declines at a country level were observed in the USA (-7.7%), India (-5.9%) and Russia (-5.5%). One of the few countries where energy demand grew in 2020 was China, with an increase of 2.1%. Norway with 8.2% and Iran with 0.2% are two other countries that have shown energy demand growth in 2020.

Lower energy demand has resulted in lower carbon dioxide emissions, which fell 6.3% last year to their lowest level since 2011.

Breaking down global energy developments by energy source, the main takeaways are as follows:

- Oil consumption fell by 9.3% (+0.3% in 2019), mostly driven by the US (-2.3 million b/d), the EU (-1.5 million b/d) and India (-480,000 b/d). In China, on the other hand, the oil consumption increased (+220,000 b/d).

- Natural gas decreased by 2.3% (+1.7% in 2019). Natural gas has held up best among fossil fuels, helped by continued strong growth in China (+6.9%).

- Coal consumption decreased by 4.2% (–1.0% in 2019). Only China and Malaysia recorded an increase in coal consumption.

- Renewable energy (including biofuels but excluding hydropower) grew by 9.7% (+11.4% in 2019). Solar capacity increased by 127 GW and wind capacity increased by 111 GW.

- Hydroelectricity grew by 1.0%, again led by China.

- Nuclear energy fell 4.1%, driven mainly by declines in France, the US and Japan.

Since the demand for fossil fuels suffered the most, the share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption continued to decline last year, although it remained high at 83.1%. The share of renewable energy in global energy consumption is 5.7%.