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Sluggish growth of World energy demand in 2011

24 May 2012

Sharp demand decrease in most OECD countries, largely compensated by a healthy Chinese market

Enerdata analyses the trends in energy demand, based on its 2011 data for G20 countries.

The energy consumption growth in the G20 slowed down to 2% in 2011, after the strong increase of 2010. The economic crisis is largely responsible for this slow growth. For several years now, the world energy demand is characterized by the bullish Chinese and Indian markets, while developed countries struggle with stagnant economies, high oil prices, resulting in stable or decreasing energy consumption.

Among the key highlights of 2011, coal was the fastest growing energy consumed in the world, with +162Mtoe (+5%), hence accounting for more than 70% of the total growth in 2011. Also, Record international oil prices (112$/bbl on average for Brent in 2011) resulted in a decrease in oil demand in European countries, the USA and Japan. Even China was impacted, with "only" a 2% increase in oil demand, after years of impressive growth (+12% in 2010).

Nevertheless, China comforts its position as the highest energy consuming country in the world. After it took over the USA in 2009, it has become in 2011 the largest electricity consumer in the world (6% above the US). In 2011, China alone contributed to 80% of the world growth, of which 40% as a result of strong industrial activity.

With a 4% growth, electricity demand remained dynamic although almost as much as twice slower than in 2010. But the dynamic Chinese and Indian electricity markets contrast with Japan where electricity restrictions post-Fukushima resulted in a 5% drop, and in France with -7% due to the warm winter and a large share of electricity heating.

Natural gas consumption growth slowed down significantly (+2% compared with 8% in 2010) as a result of a weaker market in Russia and in the United States and a declining demand in Europe (until -17% in the UK). Japan's gas consumption grew by nearly 12%, to gas-fired power generation and offset the sharp fall in nuclear generation.

CO2-energy emissions growth for the G20 is above the energy demand growth (3%), as coal increases more rapidly than other energies in the energy demand mix. Chinese emissions per capita rapidly converge towards OECD countries levels, and exceeded France levels in 2011.

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