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Primary energy

Primary energy consumption increased by 2.9% in 2018. Growth was the strongest since 2010 and almost double the 10-year average of 1.5% per year
“It seems that much of the surprising strength in energy consumption in 2018 may be related to weather effects. In particular, there was an unusually large number of both hot and cold days last year, which led to higher energy consumption as the demand for cooling and heating services increased.”

Spencer Dale, chief economist

Contribution to primary energy growth in 2018
Growth in GDP and energy (percentage annual change)

China, the US and India together accounted for more than two thirds of the global increase in energy demand, with US consumption expanding at its fastest rate for 30 years.


The growth for all fuels increased but growth was particularly strong in the case of gas (168 mtoe accounting for 43% of the global increase). All fuels grew faster than their 10-year averages, apart from renewables, although renewable still accounted for the second largest increment to energy growth (71 mtoe, 18% of the global increase.

Primary energy – world consumption (million tonnes oil equivalent)
Primary energy world consumption (million tonnes oil equivalent)
In the OECD, energy demand increased by 82 mtoe on the back of strong gas demand growth. In the non-OECD energy demand growth (308 mtoe) was more evenly distributed with gas (98 mtoe) coal (85 mtoe) and oil (47 mtoe) accounting for most of the growth.
Primary energy – regional consumption by fuel 2018 (percentage)
Primary energy regional consumption by fuel 2017 (percentage)
Fuel consumption by region 2018 (percentage)
Fuel consumption by region 2017 (percentage)
Shares of global primary energy consumption by fuel (percentage)
Shares of primary energy (percentage)

In 2018 coal’s share of primary energy fell to its lowest level in our data series in North America and Europe. Global coal consumption is heavily concentrated in Asia Pacific. Oil is mostly consumed in Asia Pacific and North America. Together, these account for 60% of global consumption.


Oil remains the most used fuel in the energy mix. Coal is the second largest fuel but lost share in 2018 to account for 27%, its lowest level in 15 years. The share of natural gas increased to 24%, such that the gap between coal and gas has narrowed to three percentage points. The contribution of hydro and nuclear remained relatively flat in 2018 at 7% and 4%, respectively. Strong growth pushed up renewables share to 4%, just below nuclear.

Energy per capita: distribution across countries (cumulative share of world population, %)
Shares of primary energy (percentage)

In 2018, 81% of the global population lived in countries where average energy demand per capita was less than 100 GJ/head, two percentage points more than 20 years ago.


However, the share of the global population consuming less than 75 GJ/head declined from 76% in 1998 to 57% last year. Average energy demand per capita in China increased from 17 GJ/head in 1978 to 97 GJ/head in 2018.

Energy per capita by region (GJ/head)
Shares of primary energy (percentage)

Average global energy consumption per capita increased by 1.8% in 2018 to 76 GJ/head in 2018. Growth in 2018 was significantly higher than the historical average (0.3% for the period 2007-2017).


North America is the region with the highest consumption per capita (240 GJ/head), followed by (161 GJ/head) and the Middle East (149 GJ/head). Africa remains the region with the lowest average consumption (15 GJ/head).


South & Central America and Europe were the only regions where average consumption per head decreased in 2018.