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BP analysis suggests shift away from coal ‘decisive’

UK-based oil giant BP says, that despite the Trump administration’s soundings about reviving coal, its analysis suggests the fossil fuel’s decline is decisive.

The company published its energy data on Tuesday showing that global coal production plunged by 6.2 per cent last year, the largest annual fall on record. Global coal consumption also dropped as the US, China and especially the UK cut their use of coal-fired power.

“The fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past,” said Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist, explaining its decline was due to a number of “structural, long-term factors”.
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Increasingly competitive renewables, and governmental and societal pressure towards clean energy were continuing to have an impact. The status of gas in the US also militates against a coal revival.

“Unless you do something to stop shale gas, which doesn’t appear to be what the administration would be keen to do, I find it hard to see how that trend would change,” Dale said.

Meanwhile Bob Dudley, BP chief executive, said the 66th edition of BP’s annual statistical review of global energy use underlined the transition facing all energy companies. “The longer-term trends we can see in this data are changing the patterns of demand and the mix of supply as the world works to meet the challenge of supplying the energy it needs while also reducing carbon emissions,” he said.

Other highlights from the report include:à‚ 

  • Global primary energy consumption increased by just 1 per cent in 2016, following growth of 0.9 per cent in 2015 and 1 per cent in 2014. This compares with the 10-year average of 1.8 per cent a year.
  • As was the case in 2015, growth was below average in all regions except Europe & Eurasia. All fuels except oil and nuclear power grew at below-average rates.
  • Energy consumption in China grew by just 1.3 per cent in 2016. Growth during 2015 and 2016 was the lowest over a two-year period since 1997-98. Despite this, China remained the world’s largest growth market for energy for a 16th consecutive year.


  • Emissions of CO2à‚ from energy consumption increased by only 0.1 per cent in 2016. During 2014-16, average emissions growth has been the lowest over any three-year period since 1981-83.

    Renewable power (excluding hydro) grew by 14.1 per cent in 2016, below the 10-year average, but the largest increment on record (53 mtoe).
  • Wind provided more than half of renewables growth, while solar energy contributed almost a third despite accounting for only 18 per cent of the total.
  • Asia Pacific overtook Europe & Eurasia as the largest producing region of renewable power. China overtook the US to be the largest single renewables producer.
  • Global nuclear power generation increased by 1.3 per cent in 2016, or 9.3 mtoe. China accounted for all of the net growth, expanding by 24.5 per cent. China’s increment (9.6 mtoe) was the largest of any country since 2004.
  • Hydroelectric power generation rose by 2.8 per cent in 2016, (27.1 mtoe). China (10.9 mtoe) and the US (3.5 mtoe) provided the largest increments. Venezuela experienced the largest decline (-3.2 mtoe).

    According to Mr à‚ Dale, China is showing global leadership in both nuclear and hydropower development.

    “Growth in China’s hydro power has slowed sharply in recent years from the rapid rates of expansion that characterized the first part of the 2000s. In contrast, China’s nuclear programme is just beginning to ramp up: it brought on five new reactors last year – the largest ever annual increase in China’s nuclear history – and has more than 20 reactors currently under construction.”