Posts Tagged ‘Renewables’

More on Energy Consumption

July 20, 2019

In my previous post was this plot showing relative penetration of renewable energy of all types (including geo-thermal, bio-fuel, and bio-waste) in world economies in 2018.

Fig. 1: Renewable energy as a percentage of total energy consumption

Renewable cons %

Many European countries have relatively large renewables penetration. (New Zealand’s position is due to geo-thermal energy providing up to 17% of its electricity.)  Australia at 5% is ahead of several very large economies, including China, the USA, and India.

However, Figure 2 shows absolute figures for renewable energy.  (All comparisons are in million tonnes of oil equivalent, taken from the 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy).

Fig. 2: Actual renewable energy consumption

Renewable cons MTOE

China is by far the largest consumer at about 20 times Australia’s consumption- and almost equalling Australia’s total energy consumption with renewables alone.

But China’s renewable consumption is dwarfed by fossil fuels.  China leads the world in fossil fuel consumption.

Fig. 3: Fossil fuel energy consumption

Fossil cons MTOE

Australia is a minnow.  China consumes 21 times as much fossil fuel as Australia- and New Zealand is far smaller.

Figure 4 shows each country’s fossil fuel consumption as a percentage of its total.

Fig. 4: Fossil fuel energy as a percentage of total energy consumption

Fossil cons %

A long list of countries obtain more than 95% of their total energy needs from fossil fuels.  Australia is in a group (including India) with fossil fuel accounting for 90 to 95% of energy needs.  I have made lists of countries in Figure 4 with 80 to 90%, 70 to 80%, and 60 to 70%.  France, Finland, and some former Soviet states use more than 50% fossil fuel.  Only three countries- Switzerland (47.5%), Sweden (32.6%), and Norway (31.9%)- have fossil fuel consumption less than 50%.  In all but these three, fossil fuels rule.

I now turn to nuclear energy.

Fig. 5: Nuclear energy as a percentage of total energy consumption

Nuclear cons %jpg

France leads the world with emission-free nuclear power at 38.5%, followed by Sweden at 29%.  Ukraine and Switzerland are above 20%.  China and India are well down the list.  Australia, despite enormous uranium reserves, is not in the nuclear club.

Fig. 6: Nuclear energy consumption

Nuclear cons MTOE

In absolute consumption, the USA is way in front, with twice as much consumption as its nearest rival, France.

The other major emission-free energy source is hydroelectricity.  Countries with high mountains and large rivers (and little opposition from environmentalists) can make good use of hydroelectricity.

Fig. 7: Hydro electric energy consumption

Hydro cons MTOE

China consumes nearly three times as much as Brazil or Canada.  Australia has very little potential for more than the small amount we now consume.

Fig. 8: Hydro electric energy consumption as a percentage of total energy

Hydro cons %

Norway gets 67.8% of its total consumption from hydro energy.  Switzerland and Sweden both have above 27% from hydro.

Generally speaking, large countries, even those blessed with hydro and nuclear resources, use more fossil fuels for transport.  Very small countries (Singapore, Hong Kong) have no room for nuclear, hydro or renewable facilities and so must rely on fossil fuels and imported electricity.  Countries with abundant oil and gas reserves naturally use more fossil fuels.

Finally, electricity generation.

Figure 9 shows the percentage of total electricity generation by each fuel type, ordered from least to most fossil fuel use.

Fig. 9: Electricity generation by fuel type

Electricity by fuel %

Note that fossil fuels dominate.  Brazil is the only major country where electricity generated by renewables exceeds that by fossil fuels, and then only because hydroelectricity provides 66% of all generation.  Hydro and nuclear generation are the real and proven alternatives to fossil fuels.  Only the UK and Germany have more than 30% renewable electricity, still less than fossil fuels.  As electricity generation accounts for 43.4% of energy consumption globally, and considering Figure 1, it is obvious that renewable electricity is only a small part of the energy mix.

Currently only nuclear and hydro are viable emission-free alternatives.  Solar panels and windmills cannot hope to replace fossil fuels for electricity generation, let alone for the wider economy.  It is time governments showed some leadership and acknowledged this truth.