Above-Average Growth Reported for Nuclear, Renewables in 2013

Despite stagnant economic growth globally, primary energy consumption surged in 2013, with growth for nuclear power and renewables in power generation expanding at above-average rates, BP said in its recently released Statistical Review of World Energy 2014.

According to the report, world power generation grew 2.5% in 2013, slightly up over 2012 (which saw 2.2% growth over 2011) but below the 10-year trend (3.3%). And while electricity generation fell for the third year in a row in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it surged 4.8% in non-OECD countries. China, followed by the U.S., was the world’s largest power generator (Figure 1). Meanwhile, India overtook Japan to take third place.

1. A generation change. Power generation (in TWh) has surged over the last two decades in Asia. Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014

Globally, coal consumption grew 3% in 2013—below the 10-year average of 3.9%—but coal is still the fastest-growing fossil fuel, the report suggested. Growth was particularly marked by increased consumption in Asia. Even though China recorded the “weakest absolute growth since 2008,” that country still accounted for 67% of coal’s global growth, with India accounting for 21%.

Nuclear saw its first increase since 2010, climbing 0.9%. Nuclear consumption grew in the U.S., China, and Canada, but was offset by declines in South Korea, Ukraine, Spain, Russia, and Japan—whose nuclear output has fallen 95% since 2010 with nearly all of its reactors still offline after the Fukushima disaster.

Renewables generation, on the other hand, soared 16.3% and accounted for a record 5.3% share of global power generation, said the report. Globally, wind energy (up 20.7%) again accounted for more than half of renewable power generation growth, and solar power generation grew even more rapidly (33%).

Natural gas consumption also grew in 2013, although below the historical average, with consumption lax in every region except North America.

Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)