• BP’s Statistical Review shows coal firing holding same share of world power generation in 2017 as in 1998

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

BP has released its annual Statistical Review of World Energy, and as always it has provided interesting reading. In his analysis of power generation trends, BP chief statistician Spencer Dale points to higher world economic output forcing up carbon emissions (a rise of 1.6% from power generation) and energy consumption in 2017. The largest driver was China, which experienced a 3% growth in energy consumption, a sharp uptick from the preceding years. Oil demand grew more strongly than in previous years, as did consumption of natural gas (by 3% worldwide), driven by a huge jump in Chinese gas demand, and coal consumption also grew, mostly through Indian and Chinese consumption, after falling for the last three years. Worldwide, power generation increased by 2.8% in 2017 (almost half the growth being in wind and solar), but it is over the last few decades that trends are surprising – in their stability. In 1998, coal firing made up 38% of global power generation, and in 2017 it made up exactly the same. Non-fossil power generation (nuclear and renewables) is also at similar levels over the 20 years, though they dipped and rose again, and similarly oil and gas has been relatively stable. The chart presented really is striking, yet it masks the important trends that are taking place, with coal firing falling in the West but rising in the developing world, and renewables rising while nuclear falls, amid the backdrop of worldwide energy consumption growing steadily. Based on these trends, one would assume that the share of non-fossil power generation will begin to tick up in the years that come.