According to the Energy Institute’s Statistical Review of World Energy, global fossil fuel consumption and energy-related emissions hit record highs in 2023, as demand for fossil fuels increased despite a large increase in renewable generation. Energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide increased by 2 percent in 2023 to exceed 40 billion metric tons for the first time, while renewable electricity generation (excluding hydro) rose 13 percent from 2022 to hit a record 4,748 terawatt hours.  Carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels is the largest source of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions contributing around 87 percent of the total.

Global primary energy use increased 2 percent to a record 620 exajoules. (One exajoule is equivalent to 163.46 million barrels of oil equivalent.) Fossil fuel use accelerated in high-growth countries such as India, with signs that its demand maybe peaking in Europe, the United States and other advanced economies, according to the Statistical Review authors. Fossil fuels’ share of the global energy mix dropped by 0.4 percentage points to 81.5 percent, which compares to an 86 percent share in 1995. Carbon dioxide emissions rose despite the slight drop in fossil fuels’ share of the energy mix because consumption of more carbon-intensive oil and coal increased while natural gas use held steady. Since 2000, global carbon dioxide emissions from energy have increased by almost 50 percent.


Fossil fuel use decreased in every European country in 2023. The share of fossil fuels in Europe’s energy mix fell below 70 percent for the first time since the industrial revolution, as Europe undertakes a partial deindustrialization, which some climate advocates are urging. The continent continues to cut its reliance on Russian gas following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and is steadily weaning itself off coal. Overall European natural gas demand was down 7 percent in 2023. Russia’s share of European gas supply was 15 percent in 2023, down from 45 percent in 2021. Last year was the first full year of rerouted Russian energy flows away from the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and also the first full year without major movement restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.


India’s use of fossil fuels increased 8 percent, with its coal consumption overtaking the combined use in North America and Europe for the first time. While the country was on track to meet its targets for building new renewable power capacity, that increase was not sufficient to cover the overall increase in power demand.


In China, which accounts for 28 percent of global energy consumption, fossil fuel consumption increased 6 percent to a new high of 139 exajoules. China accounted for 55 percent of renewable generation additions in 2023, and was responsible for 63 percent of new global wind and solar capacity. It also accounts for half of the world’s large power storage batteries. Fossil fuels in China’s primary energy mix have been falling over the past decade, reaching 81.6 percent in 2023.

Source: Reuters


Global electricity generation increased by 2.5 percent in 2023, up slightly from 2.3 percent of growth the previous year. Renewables’ share of the overall energy mix in 2023, excluding hydro, was 8 percent, up from 7.5 percent in the 2022 report. With hydroelectric renewables included, it accounted for 15 percent of the global mix in 2023. The record high renewable generation was driven by higher wind and solar capacity, with 67 percent more additions in those two categories in 2023 than in 2022. As much as 74 percent of net growth in overall power generation came from renewables. As solar power generation soars in Europe, utilities have recorded a record number of hours of negative power prices during the first 5 months of this year due to a mismatch between demand and supply when the sun is shining. That means producers more frequently have to pay to offload power, or stop running their plants, which impacts reliable, dispatchable and traditional generation from covering its costs and forces utilities to invest in more battery storage that will increase electricity prices.


Global oil consumption increased 2 percent and exceeded 100 million barrels per day in 2023 for the first time. Growth in global oil supply was met by non-OPEC+ producers, with U.S. output gaining 9 percent on the year. China overtook the United States as the country with the largest refining capacity in the world last year at 18.5 million barrels per day, though refining volumes still lagged behind at 82 percent utilization vs 87 percent in the United States. Global gasoline consumption increased to reach 25 million barrels per day in 2023, just above its 2019 pre-pandemic level. Biofuels production increased by 8 percent to 2.1 million barrels per day in 2023, mainly due to increases in the United States and Brazil. The United States, Brazil, and Europe accounted for 80 percent of global biofuels consumption. Liquids consumption totaled 103.4 million barrels per day in 2023—a new record.

Natural Gas

Global natural gas production and consumption remained relatively flat in 2023. LNG supply increased by almost 2 percent to 549 billion cubic meters. The United States overtook Qatar as the leading global supplier of LNG with a 10 percent increase in production.


Global coal consumption hit a new high of 164 exajoules in 2023, up 1.6 percent on the year, driven by China and India. In the United States, coal consumption fell 17 percent. U.S. coal consumption has halved in the last decade due to onerous regulations on coal generation and a surfeit of natural gas. Coal consumption in China increased by 4.7 percent, and by 9.7 percent in India.


2023 was a year of increased global energy use and increased energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, led by China and India, with both countries increasing their fossil energy use. Carbon dioxide emissions increased despite the fossil fuel share of the global energy mix declining slightly as both oil and coal use increased globally while natural gas use held steady. Renewable energy increased but not enough to compensate for the more carbon-intensive coal and oil use, primarily by high-growth developing countries. Nuclear energy increased by just 1.8 percent.

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