atw - International Journal for Nuclear Power | 04.2019

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atw Vol. 64 (2019) | Issue 4 ı April

Feature | Major Trends in Energy Policy and Nuclear Power

The Role of Resources and Reserves

for the Global Energy Supply

Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer

The assured availability and competitiveness of the various energy sources, as well as climate compatibility, determine

their use. Conditions on the energy markets are also subject to continuous change. This article examines the extent to

which the availability of energy resources and the orientation of energy policies influence the energy mix, particularly

power generation. It also outlines strategies for achieving the energy policy goals – security of supply, value for money

and environmental compatibility (including climate protection) – in the best possible way.

Changes in the global energy mix since 1985

Global energy consumption has almost doubled since the

mid 1980s. Fossil fuels, i.e. oil, natural gas and coal, have

covered 80 % of this growth. Thus, the share of fossil fuels

in the coverage of total primary energy consumption has

decreased only slightly, from 89 % in 1985 to 85 % in 2017.

Although renewable energies have gained massively in

importance, especially in the last ten years, the contribution

of hydropower, wind and solar energy, biomass

and geothermal energy was still limited to a total of

11 % even in 2017. In 2017, nuclear power covered 4 %

of primary energy consumption (Figure 1).

The transport sector and the petrochemical industry

are the main users of oil. Natural gas is used primarily in

the heating market, by industry, private households and

small consumers, and additionally in power generation.

Coal is used predominantly and nuclear power exclusively

for power generation. To date, the renewable energies

have also been used preferably for power generation.

This applies to hydropower but also to solar energy and

wind power and, albeit to a lesser extent, to biomass and

geothermal energy.

Global power generation has almost tripled since 1985.

Two thirds of the growth achieved since then has been covered

by coal and natural gas. At 38 %, coal’s share of global

power generation in 2017 was exactly the same as in 1985.

It is true that oil’s contribution to power generation has

dropped by eight percentage points, but this was more

than offset by a nine percentage point increase in the share

of natural gas. Accordingly, there was no significant

change in fossil fuel’s share in power generation between

1985 and 2017. It was 65 % in 2017 and also in 2000 compared

to 64 % in 1985. From 1985 to 2017, the share of

nuclear power decreased by five percentage points to 10 %,

while the contribution of renewables increased by four

percentage points to 25 %. The strongest growth was in

solar and wind, particularly in the last ten years. Despite

absolute growth, the share of hydropower has fallen by

four percentage points since 1985. Nevertheless, hydropower

continues to make the greatest contribution to

power generation among the renewable energies in 2017

(Figure 2).

| | Fig. 1.

Worldwide primary energy consumption 1985 to 2017 in million (10 6 ) tce.

| | Fig. 2.

Worldwide mix in electricity generation 1985 to 2017 in TWh (terawatt hours = 10 12 watt hours).


Determining factors for the energy mix

in power generation by country

The energy mix of power generation in the various

countries and regions of the world is very different from

the global structures described above. There are two

crucial factors for this: the resource situation in each case

and the orientation of the energy policy. This becomes

clear in an exemplary examination of the situation in

selected countries (Figure 3).

| | Fig. 3.

Mix in electricity generation of selected countries in 2017 in %.


The Role of Resources and Reserves for the Global Energy Supply ı Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer

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