Coal juggernaut continues

THE rise of renewables has failed to stop the coal juggernaut in OECD countries, as the “black gold” dominated electricity generation last year, the International Energy Agency said.

Anthony Barich

“Despite the growth in renewable, the share of electricity from fossil fuels has not varied much since 1985, after the major introduction of nuclear capacity,” the IEA’s report stated in this year’s latest edition of Energy Balances of OECD Countries.

“The electricity generation mix in the OECD in 2014 remained dominated by fossil fuels (59%), mainly coal and gas.”

Renewables is fast making up ground, however, as the share of renewable sources in electricity became larger than that of nuclear in 2011, with the gap continuing to grow, partly as a consequence of the progressive closure of nuclear plants in Japan following the Fukushima events.

Nuclear generation in Japan was zero in 2014.

This trend is also reflected in the fact that more generally in OECD, total primary energy supply (TPES) for all fossil fuels decreased between 2013 and 2014, with gas reduced by 2.3%, coal by 1.9% and oil by 0.9%.

The reduction of fossil fuels was also pronounced in use for electricity generation.

The IEA said that for electricity other sources, mainly solar photovoltaic, wind and biofuels increased by 8%, providing in 2014 over 1000 terawatt hours in the OECD.

“Non-hydro renewable electricity generation rose very fast over the last 10 years, bringing its contribution to 9% of total generation in 2014, comparable with the 13% of conventional hydro,” the report stated.

“Total renewable sources (hydro and non-hydro) provisionally accounted for 2 355TWh electricity generation across the OECD in 2014.

“In Europe alone, where development of renewable generation was more pronounced, wind accounted in 2014 for 7% of total generation, biofuels for 4% and solar PV for 3%.”