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Renewables Are Gaining Ground, But Coal Is Still King

  • Coal remains the primary global electricity source at 35.4% in 2022, with China consuming over half of global coal demand.
  • Renewables, including wind, solar, and geothermal, experienced a remarkable 14.7% growth, representing 14.4% of total electricity generation.
  • France's nuclear energy usage plummeted by 22% due to disruptions, turning the country from a significant electricity exporter to an importer.
Coal

In 2022, 29,165.2 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity was generated around the world, an increase of 2.3% from the previous year.

In this visualization, Visual Capitalist's Chris Dickert and Sam Parker look at data from the latest Statistical Review of World Energy, and ask what powered the world in 2022.

Coal is Still King

Coal still leads the charge when it comes to electricity, representing 35.4% of global power generation in 2022, followed by natural gas at 22.7%, and hydroelectric at 14.9%.

Source: Energy Institute

Over three-quarters of the world’s total coal-generated electricity is consumed in just three countries. China is the top user of coal, making up 53.3% of global coal demand, followed by India at 13.6%, and the U.S. at 8.9%.

Burning coal—for electricity, as well as metallurgy and cement production—is the world’s single largest source of CO2 emissions. Nevertheless, its use in electricity generation has actually grown 91.2% since 1997, the year when the first global climate agreement was signed in Kyoto, Japan.

Renewables on the Rise

However, even as non-renewables enjoy their time in the sun, their days could be numbered.

In 2022, renewables, such as wind, solar, and geothermal, represented 14.4% of total electricity generation with an extraordinary annual growth rate of 14.7%, driven by big gains in solar and wind. Non-renewables, by contrast, only managed an anemic 0.4%.

The authors of the Statistical Review do not include hydroelectric in their renewable calculations, even though many others, including the International Energy Agency, consider it a “well-established renewable power technology.”

With hydroelectric moved into the renewable column, together they accounted for over 29.3% of all electricity generated in 2022, with an annual growth rate of 7.4%.

France’s Nuclear Horrible Year

Another big mover in this year’s report was nuclear energy.

In addition to disruptions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, shutdowns in France’s nuclear fleet to address corrosion found in the safety injection systems of four reactors led to a 4% drop in global use, year-over-year.

The amount of electricity generated by nuclear energy in that country dropped 22% to 294.7 TWh in 2022. As a result, France went from being the world’s biggest exporter of electricity, to a net importer.

Powering the Future

Turning mechanical energy into electrical energy is a relatively straightforward process. Modern power plants are engineering marvels, to be sure, but they still work on the same principle as the very first generator invented by Michael Faraday in 1831.

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But how you get the mechanical energy is where things get complicated: coal powered the first industrial revolution, but heated the planet in the process; wind is free and clean, but is unreliable; and nuclear fission reliably generates emission-free electricity, but also creates radioactive waste.

With temperature records being set around the world in the summer, resolving these tensions isn’t just academic and next year’s report could be a crucial test of the world’s commitment to a clean energy future.

By Zerohedge.com

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Leave a comment
  • Mamdouh Salameh on September 12 2023 said:
    This goes to prove that the notions of total global energy transition and net-zero emissions are myths. Even a partial energy transition can’t succeed without huge contributions of natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. Moreover, renewables are incapable on their own of satisfying global energy demand because of their intermittent nature.

    Coal will continue to be the primary electricity generation source well into the future. Moreover, no country with major coal reserves such as China, India, Russia and Germany will keep such a cheap and important energy source underground.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert
    Join Our Community
  • Pinchazo Burbuja on September 13 2023 said:
    Why is the hydroelectric in the "non-renewable" section?

    It's a classic base-load power, but it's renewable.

    At the same time, nuclear is non-renewable, but plenty and non-fossil so it depends of the situation, it could at one side or the other.
    Better split in "fossil" and "non-fossil" being nuclear "non-fossil". No CO2 emission, and enough fuel to don't considerate depletion on short term.

Leave a comment




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