Renewables were the only category of energy that grew globally at double digits over the past decade.
For perspective, in 2010 the world consumed 9.6 exajoules of renewable energy.
In 2020, that had tripled to 31.7 exajoules.
The renewables category above consists of wind power, solar power, biofuels, geothermal energy, and power produced from biomass.
The BP report further breaks down renewable energy consumption into just power production (i.e., without biofuels), and that accounts for 88% of all renewable energy consumption.
China overtook the U.S. as the world’s top consumer of renewable energy in 2018, and continues to extend its lead.
Not only does China have the top spot for overall renewable consumption, its growth rate over the past decade vastly exceeds all other members of the Top 10.
Despite the blistering growth rate of renewables, it’s important to keep in mind that overall global energy consumption is growing.
Even though global renewable energy consumption has increased by about 21 exajoules in the past decade, overall energy consumption has increased by 51 exajoules.
Increased fossil fuel consumption made up most of this growth, with every category of fossil fuels showing increased consumption over the decade (although coal’s growth was close to zero).
Thus, while renewables have helped reduce the growth of carbon dioxide emissions, global carbon emissions have grown due to the overall growth rate of fossil fuel consumption.
However, because of the decline in overall energy consumption in 2020, renewable consumption did grow faster than overall energy consumption.
In turn, global carbon dioxide emissions decreased by a whopping 6.3% in 2020.