Hydroelectricity and nuclear remain the largest non-fossil fuels in the world, with a combined share of 12% in primary energy, explains BP’s chief economist Christof Rühl in the 2010 Review. Hydroelectricity (1.5% or 39 TWh) was the fastest -growing fuel in primary energy due to growth in China, Brazil and the US, but that increase was offset by a decline in nuclear generation (1.3% or 43 TWh) largely due to outages in Europe’s aging nuclear fleet.
The share of non-fossil fuels in power generation (hydro and nuclear, but also including wind, solar and geothermal) has been declining for most of the past decade because hydro and nuclear were unable to keep up with growth in global demand for electricity, he explains. The share has increased for the last two years, reaching 31% in 2009, partly due to falling demand for electricity but it was “the rapidly-growing contribution of wind that made a difference.”
Emerging renewables provide 0.7% of primary energy
Wind, solar and geothermal generated 1.7% of total power in 2009 (0.7% of primary energy consumption) with wind energy increasing its installed capacity by 31% (38 GW) due to high growth for the fifth year in a row. China and the US increasingly dominate the wind market and, last year, China doubled its capacity and moved into second place behind the US in terms of cumulative capacity installed
“Solar power generating capacity grew even more rapidly than wind, by 47% (7.3 GW), but total capacity remains much lower,” Rühl notes
Production of fuel ethanol grew 8% to 770,000 barrels a day of oil equivalent and, on energy content, that level of ethanol is equivalent to 1% of global oil production. The US and Brazil continue to dominate global production, although Brazil’s output declined last year because of bad weather. Production elsewhere rose by 10%, led by increases in Europe
Demand for energy fell during the economic recession of 2009 but, “underneath all the turbulence, long term energy trends remain in place,” he concludes. “The decline in OECD oil demand, the ongoing global integration of gas markets, the internationalisation of competitive coal markets, and the rising weight of renewable energy are poignant examples.”