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Fossil fuel use in India jumps, driving power consumption to a record

For the first time, more coal was used in India than Europe and North America combined, the report found

Fossil fuel use in India jumps, driving power consumption to a record
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

Primary energy consumption in India touched a record high of 39 exajoules (EJ) in 2023, with fossil fuel accounting for a major share of overall consumption, a report said this week.

Fossil fuel consumption increased by 8%, accounting for nearly all demand growth and making up 89% of total consumption, Statistical Review of World Energy said. 

For the first time, more coal was used in India than Europe and North America combined, it said. 

Global fuel consumption

Both global energy consumption and fossil fuel consumption touched a record absolute high this year, the report said.  

Global fossil fuel consumption was up 1.5% last year to 505 EJ, driven primarily by coal and oil. As a share of overall mix, they were 81.5% of the global primary energy consumption of 620 EJ, it said.

Emissions from energy rose by 2%, exceeding 40 gigatonnes of CO2 for the first time.

However, renewable generation, excluding hydro, was up 13% to a record high of 4,748 TWh, mainly driven by the record 74% contribution of solar and wind energy in overall electricity generation.

The report concluded that dependence on fossil fuels in major advanced economies may have peaked. In Europe, fossil fuels fell to below 70% of primary energy for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, driven by demand reduction and renewable energy growth.

US consumption of fossil fuels fell to 80% of total primary energy consumed.

However, emerging economies, including India, struggle to curb fossil fuel growth. China, however, has seen an acceleration in renewable energy consumption. 

In Africa primary energy consumption fell in 2023 by 0.5%. Fossil fuels accounted for 90% of overall energy consumption, with renewables (excluding hydro) at only 6% of electricity.

China’s full return to post-Covid saw fossil fuel use increase to a new high, up 6%, but as a share of primary energy it has been in decline since 2011, down to 81.6% in 2023. 

China added 55% of all renewable generation additions in 2023, more than the rest of the world combined. It also overtook Europe on an energy per capita basis for the first time.

The ongoing Ukraine conflict has rebalanced gas consumption in Europe as demand in the continent fell by 7% following a fall of 13% the previous year.

Russia’s share of EU gas imports fell to 15%, down from 45% in 2021, with LNG imports outflanking piped gas to Europe for a second year in a row.

The Statistical Review was prepared by the Energy Institute (EI) and co-authored by KPMG and Kearney.

Commenting on the report, EI president Juliet Davenport said, “Energy is central to human progress. It is also now central to our very survival. With global temperature increases averaging close to 1.5°C, 2023 was the warmest year since records began, and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change were felt across all continents.”

“In this year’s statistical review, we report on another year of highs in our energy hungry world. 2023 saw record consumption of fossil fuels and record emissions from energy, but also record generation of renewables, driven by increasingly competitive wind and solar energy,” Davenport added. 

Simon Virley, vice chair and head of energy and natural resources, KPMG in the UK said, “In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged at just over 80% for yet another year.”

“With CO2 emissions also reaching record levels, it’s time to redouble our efforts on reducing carbon emissions and providing finance and capacity to build more low carbon energy sources in the global south where demand is growing at a rapid pace,” Virley added. 


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