China’s power generation continues to grow steadily.
Most of the growth in global power generation in 2018 occurred in Asia (+6.1%): China accounted for nearly 60% of global growth due to high demand coupled with the fast development of generation capacity, followed by India, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia.
Power generation also rose in the United States (+3.6%), as weather conditions and economic growth spurred electricity consumption, whereas it slightly declined in Canada. Power generation continued to increase in Russia (economic recovery), in the Middle East, and in Africa. It remained stable in Latin America, as the growth in Brazil and Mexico was offset by a strong fall in Venezuela caused by political tensions.
In Europe, power generation remained stable despite growth in France and Turkey thanks to a higher hydropower and renewable power production (plus an improved nuclear availability in France). On the contrary, power generation declined in Belgium (significant nuclear unavailability), Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom (mild winter).
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US coal-fired power capacity fell by around 60 GW between 2011 and 2017 as a result of power plant retirements, which were due to high operating and maintenance costs. Sustained relatively low gas prices have made coal-fired power plants less competitive and less used, reducing revenues and operating margins for their operators, prompting them to retire these coal-fired units. A study led by the EIA highlights that coal-fired power plants with the lowest variable operating and maintenance costs have higher capacity factors (59% in 2017) than the coal fleet average (54%) and than the highest cost group (47%).
According to Japan National Institute for Environmental Studies, the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have declined from 1,291 MtCO2 in the financial year 2017/18 to 1,244 MtCO2 in 2018/19 (-3.6%), which is their lowest level since 1990/91. It was the fifth year in a row of decline, which was mainly driven by the increased use of renewable energies and the restart of nine nuclear reactors. As the world’s fifth-biggest carbon emitter, Japan aims at reducing its GHG emissions by 26% by 2030 (from 2013 levels). The observed decrease stood at 11.8% at the end of 2017/18.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the installed wind power capacity in the United States has reached 100 GW in the third quarter of 2019 (from over 94 GW at the end of 2018), enough to supply power to 32 million US households. Wind installations accelerated in the third quarter of 2019, with 8 new large power projects totalling 1.9 GW commissioned.
According to the annual report on the functioning of the European carbon market, greenhouse gras (GHG) emissions from installations covered by the EU ETS decreased by 4.1% (around 73 MtCO2eq) to 1,682 MtCO2eq in 2018, thanks to a 7.3% drop in emissions from the power and heat production sector (down to 913 MtCO2eq). Verified emissions from the industrial sector remained stable (-0.1%) at 769 MtCO2eq, while those from aviation grew by 3.9% to 67 MtCO2eq.