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Coal growth overshadows record 2013 for renewables

  • Coal-powered generation is growing fast
    Coal-powered generation and renewables both hit record consumption levels last year. Image: Stewart Black.

Renewable energy accounted for a record share of global energy consumption last year, but so too did coal, hitting its highest level since 1970.

According to oil giant BP’s annual energy review, renewables accounted for 2.7% of global consumption last year, up from 0.8% a decade ago.

Solar was the fastest growing technology in the renewables class, growing by 33% compared to wind’s 20.7% in 2013.

Overall, renewables accounted for over 5.3% of global power generation.

But despite the success of renewables in gaining ground, coal use is also growing, according to BP.

Last year, the 3% increase in coal consumption made it the world’s fastest-growing fossil fuel, driven largely by increased use in developing regions.

Overall, it accounted for 30.1% of total primary energy consumption, the highest proportion since 1970, suggesting a prioritisation of cheap rather than clean sources of energy.

BP said the biggest challenge for renewables was to sustain subsidies in areas where penetration is highest but economic growth sluggish, particularly European countries.


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