The first edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy may have been published in 1952 – making it the grand old age of 65 this year – but some things remain constant.
“As always, this year’s Statistical Review contains lots of fascinating facts and figures,” says BP’s chief economist, Spencer Dale. “It has established itself as a sort of ‘bible’ of energy statistics for our industry over that period of time.
“I think it plays two key roles: first, by providing timely, objective data of the past year, it helps us make sense of the events we’ve just lived through, and puts it in a broader context.
“Secondly, the historical data that is collected over a period of time provides a context of where we may be headed. As we all know, one of the best ways of knowing where you may be going is having a sense of where you’ve come from.”
So, where did we come from in 2015? And what were the movers and shakers in the energy mix? Here, Dale talks through the headlines:
“The highlight from last year’s data is the fact that the global demand for energy grew relatively slowly, by only 1%. That’s similar to the growth rate seen in 2014, but far slower than the growth rate seen over the last ten years.”
Other than the 2009 recession, the rate of global primary energy consumption in 2015 represented the lowest growth since 1998.
Primary numbers: percentage change in global primary energy consumption since 2000
“Oil prices fell sharply in 2015 and we could see the oil market responding to that. On the demand side, this fall in prices stimulated strong growth: oil demand grew by around 1.9 million barrels a day last year - that’s almost twice its 10-year average.”
Dated Brent averaged $52.39 per barrel in 2015, down from $98.95 in 2014. This was the lowest annual average since 2004.
Rise and fall: percentage change in Brent oil prices year-on-year since 1985
“The slow growth in energy demand, together with the shift in the fuel mix away from coal towards cleaner, lower carbon fuels, means that growth in carbon emissions essentially stalled in 2015. That’s the slowest growth rate we’ve seen for more than 25 years, other than in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis.”
Emissions of carbon dioxide from energy consumption increased by only 0.1% in 2015.
Slow down: annual percentage change in carbon dioxide emissions from energy use and (right) total CO2 emissions since 1990
“The fastest-growing source of energy last year was renewable energy used in the power sector, increasing by more than 15% and led by strong growth in wind and solar.
This continued the story that we’ve been seeing for several years now – fast falls in the cost of wind and solar power driving strong demand growth.”
Globally, wind energy remains the largest source of renewable electricity (52.2% of renewable generation), with Germany recording the largest growth increment (+53.4%).
The story so far: wind power
“Natural gas bounced back last year from the weak growth rates we saw in 2014 related to the mild winter that year. Much of the action was happening in the US: on the supply side, it remained the powerhouse for global gas production, all of that coming from continuing strong growth in shale gas.
“And, on the demand side, that strong growth in US shale gas pushed down gas prices in the US, allowing gas to gain significant shares from coal within the country’s power sector.”
World natural gas consumption grew by 1.7% in 2015, a significant increase from the very weak growth seen in 2014, but still below the 10-year average of 2.3%.
Return to form: percentage change in global natural gas consumption year-on-year since 2005
“Coal consumption fell sharply in 2015, recording its largest decline on record. That reflected factors on both the supply and demand sides. On the supply side, strong growth in US shale gas crowded out coal within the power sector, leading to big falls in coal consumption there.
On the demand side, the main driver was China. A shift in the structure of the Chinese economy away from the industrial sectors, that tend to be very coal-intensive, caused its coal consumption to fall for the second consecutive year.”
Coal's share of global primary energy consumption fell to 29.2%, its lowest since 2005.
Weak spots: the years of global coal consumption decline since 1985