Category: 2018 Global Energy Summary

Highlights of global energy production and consumption


Source Unless Otherwise Noted: Carbon Brief Global Emissions Summary

How much carbon dioxide is produced when different fuels are burned?

Pounds of CO2 emitted per million British thermal units (Btu) of energy for various fuels

Coal (anthracite) 228.6
Coal (bituminous) 205.7
Coal (lignite) 215.4
Coal (subbituminous) 214.3
Diesel fuel and heating oil 161.3
Gasoline (without ethanol) 157.2
Propane 139.0
Natural gas 117.0

Source: CO2 emissions from fossil fuels

2018  Global Energy Summary 

  • Energy use grew at a rate of 2.9%, the largest since 2010
    • China, the U.S. and India accounted for 2/3 of global energy-use growth
    • U.S. consumed more energy than ever before, expanding at the fastest rate in 30 years
    • The Middle East, Africa, and Asia now drive nearly all global energy consumption growth
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics


  • Wind and solar growth slowed modestly in 2018
  • Non-hydro renewables grew by 14.5%; represent 4% of global energy use
  • Hydro generation grew by 3%
  • All renewables represent 15% of global energy use


  • Natural gas was the single largest contributor to global energy-use growth
    • Natural gas use has increased by 31% since 2009
  • Oil consumption grew by 1.5%; U.S. and China accounting for 85% of this growth
    • Oil use has increased by 14% since 2009
  • Coal consumption grew at the fastest rate since 2013 (1.4%)
    • Global coal use has increased by 10% since 2009
    • Coal use increased by 1% in China, reversing 4 four years of reduction (or near-zero growth)
  • India was the largest single driver of global coal growth (45%)

Global coal use between 1965-2018, broken down by key consumers, millions of tonnes of oil equivalent
Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Nebraska, U.S. American Public Power Association on Unsplash


  • Total number of people globally without electricity now below 1 billion
  • Global electricity generation rose by 3.7%, led by China, India*, and the U.S.
    • *India:  A vast rural electrification program has brought electricity to 95% of Indian households, leaving only 11 million homes without electricity.  The International Energy Agency describes this programs as one of the greatest success stories of 2018 ( The Economic Times Rural Electrification )
  • Electricity sources
    • Renewables were the single largest contributor to the increase in global electricity use
    • April, 2019–U.S. renewables electricity exceed coal (21.6%) for the first time FERC  (see below)
    • Fossil fuels still account for 64% of global electricity
      • Electricity generated from coal set a new record in 2018—38%
      • Natural gas accounted for 23% of global electricity generation
    • Nuclear
      • Generation grew by 2.4%; China accounted for 75% of this growth
Doel, Beveren (Belgium) Nuclear Powerplant Photo by Frederic Paulussen on Unsplash

U.S. Energy Trends

In 2018, the United States consumed more energy than ever before; the increase was the largest since 2010.

  • Coal, natural gas, and petroleum accounted for 80% of total U.S. energy consumption

U.S. Generating Capacity 2019

U.S. electricity production from renewables surpassed coal in April, 2019