Primary energy

Primary energy comprises commercially traded fuels, including modern renewables used to generate electricity. World primary energy consumption grew by 1.0% in 2016, well below the 10-year average of 1.8% and the third consecutive year at or below 1%

As was the case in 2015, growth was below average in all regions except Europe & Eurasia. All fuels except oil and nuclear power grew at below-average rates. Oil provided the largest increment to energy consumption at 77 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe), followed by natural gas (57 mtoe) and renewable power (53 mtoe).

Primary energy world consumption (million tonnes oil equivalent)


Primary energy regional consumption by fuel 2016 (percentage)


Fuel consumption by region 2016 (percentage)


Shares of primary energy (%)

Shares of primary energy 2016

Oil remains the world’s dominant fuel, making up roughly a third of all energy consumed. In 2016 oil gained global market share for the second year in a row, following 15 years of declines from 1999 to 2014. Coal’s market share fell to 28.1%, the lowest level since 2004. Renewables in power generation accounted for a record 3.2% of global primary energy consumption.

Regionally, oil remains the dominant fuel in Africa and the Americas, while natural gas dominates in Europe & Eurasia and the Middle East. Coal is the dominant fuel in the Asia Pacific region, accounting for 49% of regional energy consumption. In 2016, coal’s share of primary energy fell to its lowest level in our data series in North America, Europe & Eurasia and Africa. Asia is the leading consumer of oil, coal, hydroelectricity and for the first time in 2016, the leading consumer of renewables in power generation, overtaking Europe & Eurasia.


In this review, primary energy comprises commercially traded fuels, including modern renewables used to generate electricity.

In the primary energy table, oil consumption is measured in million tonnes; other fuels in million tonnes oil equivalent (mtoe).

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