New energy efficiency improvement in the USA in 2019, after slight rise in 2018.
Global energy intensity (total energy consumption per unit of GDP) improved by 2.1% in 2019, i.e. faster than its historical trend (-1.6%/year on average between 2000 and 2018 and -1.2% in 2018). However, this improvement remains far from the 3.5%/year decrease required to achieve the 2°C scenario.
Energy intensity levels and trends differ widely across world regions, reflecting differences in economic structure and energy efficiency achievements.
China’s energy intensity reduction continued in 2019 (-2.8%, close to its historical trend): in 2019, its energy intensity stood 44% below its 2000 level, still 17% above the world average.
Since 2000, the USA and the EU have cut their energy intensity by more than 30% thanks to energy efficiency efforts, to changes in the power mix (higher share of renewables and gas) and to a lesser extent to a structural shift toward less energy-intensive industry branches and the growing share of services in the GDP. Energy intensity in the EU was 33% below the world average in 2019, with reductions accelerating in 2019 compared to historical trends.
The high energy intensity in the CIS, the Middle East, China and some developing Asian countries is explained by the dominance of energy-intensive industries, commodity exporting-based economies and low energy prices that do not encourage energy efficiency. In 2019, energy intensity decreased in Asia (especially in India, Japan and South Korea), in Canada and in Mexico. It stayed stable in Russia (+0.4%, almost no change since 2010), where it remains twice as high as the global average, and increased in most Middle East countries.
In 2020, European Union-wide electricity consumption declined by more than 4%, as rising demand by households could not reverse falls in other sectors of the economy. The share of renewables in the EU power mix rose to 39%, surpassing fossil fuels (36%) for the first time. Indeed, coal- and lignite-fired power generation fell by 22% (-87 TWh), due to a strong competition from gas (very favourable price), higher carbon prices and new retirements of coal-fired power capacities. Consequently, the carbon footprint of the power sector in the EU dropped by 14% in 2020, with fuel switching being the main factor behind the decarbonisation trend. The European Union added 29 GW of solar and wind capacity in 2020, which is comparable to 2019 levels.
The global renewable capacity increased by 10.3% in 2020, when 261 GW of new projects were commissioned, raising the global renewable capacity to 2,799 GW, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Almost two third of the new renewable capacities were installed in Asia (167.6 GW, corresponding to a 15% growth), followed by Europe (+34.3 GW, +6%), North America (+32.1 GW, +8%), South America (+9.4 GW, +4%), Oceania (+6.9 GW, +19%), Eurasia (+6.2 GW, +6%), the Middle east (+1.2 GW, +5%), Africa (+2.6 GW, +5%) and Central America and the Caribbean (+0.3 GW, +2%).
Turkey’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions decreased by 3.1% in 2019 to 506 MtCO2eq, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. The energy sector is the largest contributor (72% in 2019) to emissions, followed by the agriculture sector (13%), the industrial processes and product use (11%) and waste (3%). GHG emissions have more than doubled since 1990 (220 MtCO2eq) and GHG emissions per capita have increased by more than 50% (from 4 tCO2eq to 6.1 tCO2eq in 2019).
Sweden’s solar photovoltaic capacity increased from nearly 700 MW in 2019 to over 1,090 MW in 2020, according to the national solar energy association Svensk Solenergi. The country added 392 MW of capacity in 2020, against 287 MW in 2019.