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Renewable Energy – just a drop in the bucket

In this blog we are going to have a more detailed look at the world wide’s energy mix, looking closely at the shares of each source contributing to the overall supply of energy, the primary usage by sector of each origin, and the distribution of the global electricity mix. 

Before getting into details, we will see that the overall composition is still very coal and oil heavy, with renewable energy sources only contributing a minority to satisfy global demand. However, the demand-supply balance has the power to change that in the long run, unlike over-ambitious government targets that are confident in our ability to increase the share of renewables and clean energies drastically within the upcoming years. Nevertheless, each individual has the power to contribute their share to this positive development by changing today to a green energy supplier and follow Electrifying’s footsteps.  

Let’s start by having a look at the current allocation in the primary energy source supply, separated by fuel. 

Figure 1 : IEA 2017 – https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics

Looking at the graph, we can see that Coal, Oil and Natural gas account for more than 80% of the global primary energy supply, followed by Biofuels and Nuclear with shares of 9.5% and 4.9% respectively. All leftover renewable power sources combined, merely account for 4.5%, which corresponds to 628Mtoe. Though, these frustrating numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. 

As with many things, coal is also the primary source when it comes to generating electricity, combined with natural gas, accounting for almost two-thirds of the pie. All renewables combined, on the other hand, only add up to about a quarter of the global electricity mix. 

Figure 2: IEA 2017

Moving on to the usages per sector of the individual sources, we always need to keep the above distributions in mind. As the graph below illustrates, coal is primarily used as a power source for industrial applications, 84.34%, with insignificant numbers in the other sectors, such as transport, commercial and public services, agriculture and forestry, as well as non-specified smaller areas. Almost 8% of the total supplied coal is used to provide energy for the residential sector.

Figure 3: IEA 2017

Unlike coal, natural gas is more evenly distributed amongst the various sectors. 

Figure 4: IEA 2017

The biggest single recipient is still the industry; however, the residential, as well as the commercial and public services sector, combine to more than half of the final usage of natural gas. A fair share is used for transport, while other areas are diminishingly small. 

Figure 5: IEA 2017

Oil, on the other hand, finds its primary final main usage in transport, accounting for almost 80%. A relatively even distribution, as shown above, can be seen across remaining sectors, with industry and residential at the front. 

Further above, the composition of how much of the total share the various sources are generating was illustrated. In the following graph, we can see the final usage by sector of electricity, hence can determine where the produced electricity finds its use. Again, and likewise, to natural gas usage, the industry sector leads the usage of power as well. A considerable amount, more than one quarter of the total electricity supplied worldwide is used for the residential sector, over a fifth for commercial and public services. At the same time, the remaining 10% is divided throughout the leftover areas. 

What can we take away from the numerous graphs produced above? – For once, the share of renewable sources used for generating electricity and energy is still very little although it has been more than doubled within the last six years[1]. Additionally, we can see that the worlds energy demand is still mainly satisfied by carbon emission resources like coal, oil and natural gas. Nonetheless, change has happened over the past decades, yet again increasing emphasis on renewables, and the help of individuals need to keep further improving before a healthy share of carbon emission-free energy supply is possible. 

Figure 6: IEA 2017

In conclusion, the worlds energy mix is still heavily dependent on traditional energy sources. It needs to make gigantic steps towards the use of renewable energy sources to impact the overall energy mix, as energy demand is continuously increasing. 

Where do you see the most significant opportunities for changing the overall composition of the global energy demand and supply? 


[1] https://www.mmta.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/IEA-Statistics-Renewables-Information-2013.pdf

3 replies on “Renewable Energy – just a drop in the bucket”

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