Energy in 2014: A Year of Change

27.07.2015 -

(CHEManager International 7-8/2015)     World consumption     2014 was a remarkable year in the world of energy. The eerie calm that had characterized energy markets in the few years prior to 2014 came to an abrupt end last year. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015, global primary energy consumption increased by just 0.9% in 2014, a marked deceleration over 2013 (+2.0%) and the slowest rate of growth since 1998. Growth was below average in all regions except North America and Africa. All fuels except nuclear grew at below-average rates. Oil remains the world’s dominant fuel (fig. 1). Hydroelectric and other renewables in power generation both reached record shares of global primary energy consumption (6.8% and 2.5%, respectively).

Regional consumption     Although emerging economies continued to dominate the growth in global energy consumption, growth in these countries (+2.4%) was well below its 10-year average of 4.2%. The fall in EU energy consumption (-3.9%) was the second-largest percentage decline on record. The Asia Pacific region once again accounted for the largest increment to global primary energy consumption and continues to account for the largest share (41.3% of the global total). The region accounted for over 71% of global coal consumption for the first time in 2014, and coal remains the region’s dominant fuel (fig. 2). Gas is the dominant fuel in Europe & Eurasia and the Middle East, while oil is the largest source of energy in the Americas and Africa.

Fossil fuel reserves-to-production ratios     Coal remains — by far — the most abundant fossil fuel by R/P ratio (fig. 3), though oil and natural gas reserves have increased over time. The slowing pace of Chinese industrialization caused the growth in Chinese coal consumption to stall and the growth in global consumption of coal to be unusually weak. Non-OECD countries account for the majority of proved reserves for all fossil fuels. The Middle East holds the largest reserves for oil and natural gas, and the highest R/P ratio for natural gas; South & Central America hold the highest R/P ratio for oil. Europe & Eurasia holds the largest coal reserves and the highest R/P ratio.

Biofuels production     World biofuels production increased by 7.4% in 2014 (fig. 4). Global ethanol production increased by 6.0%, the second consecutive year of growth, led by increases from North America, South & Central America and Asia Pacific. Biodiesel production increased by 10.3% in 2014, despite a decline in production from North America. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has a goal for biofuels to meet more than a quarter of world demand for transportation fuels by 2050 to reduce dependence on petroleum and coal. Global biofuels production grew by a below-average 7.4% (+4.9 million tons of oil equivalent), driven by increases in the US (+5.6%), Brazil (+5.5%), Indonesia (+40.4%) and Argentina (+30.9%).