China’s power generation continues to grow steadily.
Global power generation, which had increased by nearly 3%/year over the 2000-2018 period, slowed down significantly in 2019 (+1%), reflecting the lower electricity demand due to relative milder weather conditions and slower economic growth.
Coal-fired power generation (36% of the global power mix in 2019) decreased by 3.5%, offset by an increase in gas-fired (+3.2%), nuclear (+3.6%), wind (+12%) and solar (+24%) generation.
China was the main contributor to the global power generation growth, with a rising renewable and thermal production; power generation increased by 4.7% in 2019, less than half the 2000-2018 average (+10%/year).
The lower electricity demand slashed power generation by 1.2% in the USA, where the rising gas-fired and renewable production led to large coal-fired generation cutbacks. In Europe, the economic slowdown translated into a 1.8% decline, especially in Germany (reduction of coal-fired generation) and France (lower nuclear and hydropower availability), despite a 25% surge in Belgium (improved nuclear availability and higher wind generation).
Power generation continued to fall in Japan (-3.4%) and dipped in South Korea (after a decade of growth) against declining electricity consumption. It also stagnated in India, where coal-fired generation decreased for the first time since 1973.
Switzerland’s electricity consumption declined by 2.6% in 2020 to 55.7 TWh, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. This decline was due to the COVID-19 related lockdowns (-4.3% in electricity consumption in the first quarter and -7.8% in the second quarter of 2020), and to economic trends (2.9% drop in the GDP), weather conditions (the number of heating degree days fell by 4.4% compared to 2019) and energy efficiency improvements to a lesser extent.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operators covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) fell by 13.3% in 2020, due to an 11.2% decrease in emissions from stationary installations (power plants and manufacturing plants) to 1.331 MtCO2eq and a 64.1% decrease in emissions from aviation, a sector which was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, to 24.5 MtCO2eq.
The power sector posted a 14.9% decrease, as a result of reduced electricity consumption due to the pandemic and continued decarbonisation trends, including both the switch from coal to gas-fired power generation, and the replacement of fossil fuels by renewables. In addition, emissions from industry decreased by an average of 7%, with reductions observed in most sectors, including iron and steel (-11.7%), cement (-5.1%), chemicals (-4%) and refineries (-8.1%).
According to preliminary data from the Ministry of the Ecological Transition, France’s primary energy consumption decreased by 9.9% in 2020 to 2,571 TWh. Final energy consumption declined by 7.9% to 1,637 TWh in 2020, including 147 TWh for non-energy uses (final consumption for energy use at constant climate declined by 5.6% in 2020). The lockdown measures and travel restrictions had a significant impact on energy consumption in the transport and industrial sectors: energy consumption fell by nearly 16% in transport and by 6.5% in industry. The energy consumption of residential and tertiary building adjusted for climate variations increased slightly (+1.5% with climate corrections).
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 1.7% in 2019 to 5,769 MtCO2eq (including LULUCF), i.e. 13% below their 2005 level. The decrease in total energy consumption in 2019 (compared to 2018) and to a continued shift from coal to gas and renewables in the power sector reduced emissions from fossil fuel combustion.