The bp Statistical Review of World Energy is a venerable study of the production and use of energy around the world, and the oil giant has been releasing it every year since 1952. It is a highly thorough report that details the energy production and consumption rates as well as the methods used in almost every nation and region of the world.
Overall, there are both positive and negative news stories. The good news is that renewable energy, primarily solar and wind power, has continued to increase rapidly and now makes up 13% of all generation. Although at a scarcely perceptible rate, fossil fuels are losing ground in the global energy mix. In 2021, they made up 82 percent of primary energy use, down from 83 percent in 2019 and 85 percent five years earlier.
The negative: Global energy use is soaring. Nearly 6% more primary energy was used globally in 2021, more than correcting the steep decline in consumption during lockdown year 2020. It is predicted that primary energy demand would increase by about 1% in 2021 compared to 2019.
The undesirable: Coal is returning. In 2021, coal consumption increased by more than 6%, slightly exceeding 2019 levels and reaching its highest level since 2014.
Numerous articles and comments have been written in response to the publication of the Review’s most recent edition. One particular graph, which shows how the world’s mix of energy sources has changed over the past 21 years (see page 10 of the full report ), has repeatedly appeared on LinkedIn, with supporters of opposing viewpoints on both sides of the energy debate using it.
Techno-greenies see this period’s considerable increase in renewable production as evidence that decarbonization is feasible. For proponents of fossil fuels, the fact that they continue to provide the vast majority of the world’s energy is evidence that they cannot be replaced.
Of fact, the latter position defies logic. Even while some of our great-grandparents used horses to move around, it doesn’t always follow that our kids will. Old technologies are replaced by new ones, and the changeover can occasionally happen quickly. On the other hand, it is not yet the end of the Oil Age just because renewable generation has increased over the past ten years from negligible to significant levels. Whatever their marketing teams may say, BP and other wealthy oil firms are working hard to hold back new technology for a long time due to political and economic forces (not to mention geopolitical catastrophes like wars and pandemics).
And how is bp spinning the data itself? Obviously, in a way that benefits oneself.
The article A foreword to the report by bps Chief Economist Spencer Dale acknowledges the need for the world to decarbonize deeply and quickly in order to meet the Paris climate goals, but it also admits that despite all the talk about cutting emissions, there hasn’t been any real progress on the ground and that the world is still traveling down an unsustainable path.
Mr. Dale also makes the astute observation that humanity is confronted with an energy trilemma. Decision-makers are being forced to choose between the competing aims of energy security, affordability, and lower carbon due to supply limitations and rising prices.
Although the oil industry executive acknowledges that renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are currently viable, he also promotes other technologies like biofuels, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and carbon dioxide removals, which are widely regarded as gimmicks designed to ensure the continued demand for fossil fuels like oil and gas.
Mr. Dale also neglects to point out that bp and its industry peers spend several times more time and money boosting oil output than they do decreasing emissions. Oil firms strive to promote themselves as responsible parties working to fix the issue rather than acting as if they don’t believe in climate change, and bp has been pretty effective at creating this image of a poacher-turned-gamekeeper. The business has achieved a major player in public EV charging status in a number of international marketplaces and has made wind energy investments. However, its green efforts to date only make up a small portion of the money it invests on discovering new oil reserves, let alone the enormous sums spent on lobbying and political contributions to stymie government action on climate change.
EVANNEX was the original publisher.
Authored by: Charles Morris
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