The 'Energy Mix'

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What is the 'energy mix'?

The 'energy mix' refers to the distribution of consumption per energy source from one region to another. Each country uses energy differently, defining its own energy mix.[1]

According to the BP Statistical Review, in 2010 oil consumption accounted for 34% of the world's primary energy; coal accounted for 30% of the mix; gas contributed 24%; hydro-power contributed 6.5% and non-hydro renewables (including biofuels) contributed 1.8%.[2] BP's Energy Outlook 2030 report highlights three key trends shaping the modern energy economy: industrialisation; urbanisation and motorisation. These trends are led by:

  • increased energy consumption.
  • increased efficiency of energy use in production and consumption.
  • increasing diversification of sources of energy.
  • increased demand for clean and convenient energy at the point of use.[3]

Historical trends

One source of power has always dominated the energy mix. In the pre-industrial age wood dominated, during the industrial revolution coal dominated and oil has dominated the 20th century. By 2030 BP predicts that natural gas will gain in importance, however energy efficiency will mean that economic growth will be far less energy intensive across the globe.[4]

The first great wave of industrialisation was powered by coal, a fuel which remained dominant until after the Second World War. The next major transition came with electricity and the internal combustion engine, which allowed diversification away from coal. Coal gradually came to be replaced as the principal fuel in power generation by natural gas and renewable energy sources.[5]

However between 2000-2011 coal's share of the energy mix increased by 4% on the back of strong growth in China, most of whom's growth in the 21st century has come from burning coal. Coal consumption in 2011 was up by 7.6% and was growing faster than at any time since 2003.[6]

Future projections

The IEA predicts that the share of natural gas in the global energy mix will increase from 21% in 2011 to 25% in 2035 and the share of coal will decline. However according to their report, an increased share of natural gas in the energy mix is far from enough to avoid an average global temperature rise of less than 2°C, as although gas is estimated to replace some coal and oil in the mix it will also displace some nuclear power, thereby increasing greenhouse gas emissions.[7]

According to BP's estimates, the fuel mix will change relatively slowly due to long asset lifetimes. However the fastest growing fuels will be renewables, which are expected to grow at 8.2% per year between 2010-2030. Among fossil fuels, gas is expected to grow at the fastest rate (2.1% per year). Their outlook predicts that oil will continue a long decline in market share and that recent gains by coal in market share, due to rapid industrialisation in China and India, will be reversed by 2030.[8]

Unconventional energy sources

The Petroleum Economist predicts that unconventional resources such as shale gas and coal bed methane will play a critical role in meeting global energy demand in the future, the "game changer" being the rise of unconventional gas in the US. However nearly 75% of the world's total unconventional resources lie outside North America.[9]

According to the IEA's 2011 report 'Are we entering a golden age of gas?', unconventional gas resources are now estimated to be as large as conventional resources, and unconventional gas now makes up around 60% of marketed production in the US.[10]

Shale Gas

KPMG, in their report Shale Gas - A Global Perspective argue that this resource has the potential to turn the world's energy industry on its head and to displace fossil fuels in the energy mix of selected locations, including China, America, Argentina, Mexico and South Africa,[11] potentially slowing the development of renewable resources. However the industry must first face considerable reputational and regulatory obstacles.[12]

Renewable energy sources

Renewable energy includes such sources as wind, photovoltaic and thermal solar, tidal and wave power, among others. The renewable energy industry is still in its infancy in terms of its contribution to the global mix, but while the global contribution is still minor, it shows a high growth rate. Wind power, for example, showed growth rates above 30% between 1997-2007.[13] However, demand for fossil-based energy, such as coal and oil, has outpaced demand for clean energy.[14]

The 'Energy Mix' around the globe


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Azerbaijan


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Colombia


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Ghana


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Iraq


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Libya


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Syria


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Egypt


Main article: The 'Energy Mix' in Kenya


  1. The Energy MixPlanete Energies, retrieved 1 February 2012.
  2. The world gets back to burningEconomist, 8 June 2011.
  3. BP Energy Outlook 2030”, BP, January 2011.
  4. Watts nextEconomist, 25 January 2012.
  5. BP Energy Outlook 2030BP, January 2011.
  6. The world gets back to burningEconomist, 8 June 2011.
  7. Are we entering the golden age of gas?IEA, 2011.
  8. BP Energy Outlook 2030BP, January 2011.
  9. Unconventional gas's global potentialPetroleum Economist, 18 July 2011.
  10. Are we entering the golden age of gas?IEA, 2011.
  11. The World in Figures:EnergyEconomist, 17 November 2011.
  12. Shale Gas - A Global PerspectiveKPMG Institutes, December 2011.
  13. World Energy and Population Trends to 2100Approaching the Limits to Growth, October 2001.
  14. Clean Energy Progress ReportIEA, June 2011.