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Preference for gas up as global energy demand rises by 2.3%

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Natural gas power plant Source: International Energy Agency

Natural gas emerged as the fuel of choice, posting the biggest gains and accounting for 45% of the rise in energy consumption, as global energy demand grew by 2.3% last year, its fastest pace this decade, driven by a robust global economy and stronger heating and cooling needs in some regions.

Though demand for all fuels increased, with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70% of the growth for the second year running, gas demand growth was especially strong in the United States and China.

In Nigeria, there are calls to exploit opportunities availed the nation through its natural gas deposit for power generation, as against being flared.

Though the Federal Government said the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme is expected unlock and supply 600,000 metric tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas to about six million homes in Nigeria, oil and gas firms operating in the country flared a total of 282.08 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas in 2018, amounting to a potential loss of N234bn.

According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the volume of gas flared last year fell slightly from 287.59 billion scf in 2017.

Solar and wind generation grew at double-digit pace, with solar alone increasing by 31%. Still, that was not fast enough to meet higher electricity demand around the world that also drove up coal use.

As a result, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to 33 Gigatonnes (Gt) in 2018. Coal use in power generation alone surpassed 10 Gt, accounting for a third of total emissions. Most of that came from a young fleet of coal power plants in developing Asia. The majority of coal-fired generation capacity today is found in Asia, with 12-year-old plants on average, decades short of average lifetimes of around 50 years.

These findings are part of the International Energy Agency’s latest assessment of global energy consumption and energy-related CO2 emissions for 2018.

The Global Energy & CO2 Status Report provides a high-level and up-to-date view of energy markets, including latest available data for oil, natural gas, coal, wind, solar, nuclear power, electricity, and energy efficiency.

According to the report, electricity continues to position itself as the “fuel” of the future, with global electricity demand growing by 4% in 2018 to more than 23 000 TWh.

his rapid growth is pushing electricity towards a 20% share in total final consumption of energy. Increasing power generation was responsible for half of the growth in primary energy demand.

Renewables were a major contributor to this power generation expansion, accounting for nearly half of electricity demand growth. China remains the leader in renewables, both for wind and solar, followed by Europe and the United States.

Energy intensity improved by 1.3% last year, just half the rate of the period between 2014-2016. This third consecutive year of slowdown was the result of weaker energy efficiency policy implementation and strong demand growth in more energy intensive economies.

“We have seen an extraordinary increase in global energy demand in 2018, growing at its fastest pace this decade,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director.

“Last year can also be considered another golden year for gas, which accounted for almost half the growth in global energy demand. But despite major growth in renewables, global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts — developing all clean energy solutions, curbing emissions, improving efficiency, and spurring investments and innovation, including in carbon capture, utilization and storage.”

Almost a fifth of the increase in global energy demand came from higher demand for heating and cooling as average winter and summer temperatures in some regions approached or exceeded historical records. Cold snaps drove demand for heating and, more significantly, hotter summer temperatures pushed up demand for cooling.


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