Energy demand worldwide grew by 2.3 per cent last year – its fastest pace this decade. And nearly 70 per cent of that demand growth came from, China, the US and India.

In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, the US saw its gas consumption jump 10 per cent from the previous year – the fastest increase since the beginning of IEA records in 1971.‘Extraordinary increase’ in global energy demand

“We have seen an extraordinary increase in global energy demand in 2018,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “Last year can also be considered another golden year for gas, which accounted for almost half the growth in global energy demand.”

Data released yesterday by the IEA revealed that natural gas was 2018’s fuel of choice, posting the biggest gains and accounting for 45 per cent of the rise in energy consumption.

Demand for all fuels increased, with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70 per cent of the growth for the second year running. Solar and wind generation grew at double-digit pace, with solar alone increasing by 31 per cent – but that was not fast enough to meet higher electricity demand around the world that also drove up coal use.

The IEA notes that electricity continues to position itself as the fuel of the future, with global electricity demand growing by 4 per cent in 2018. This rapid growth is pushing electricity towards a 20 per cent share in total final consumption of energy. Increasing power generation was responsible for half of the growth in primary energy demand.

Renewables were a major contributor to this power generation expansion, accounting for nearly half of electricity demand growth. China remains the leader in renewables, both for wind and solar, followed by Europe and the US.

Birol said that despite major growth in renewables, “global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts — developing all clean energy solutions, curbing emissions, improving efficiency, and spurring investments and innovation, including in carbon capture, utilization and storage.

Almost a fifth of the increase in global energy demand came from higher demand for heating and cooling as average winter and summer temperatures in some regions approached or exceeded historical records. Cold snaps drove demand for heating and, more significantly, hotter summer temperatures pushed up demand for cooling.