Stat attack

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) key world energy statistics have just been released. The long-term global trends of rising energy use continues, as figure 1 below shows.

Figure 1: Global energy use by region

Source: IEA

As can be seen, the OECD’s energy use peaked around 2007, but this trend is overwhelmed by China’s continuing growth and other developing countries. Drilling down into the OECD statistics, we see that in figure 2 below the decline is driven by lower coal, oil and nuclear, while being offset by gas and other. The thin red line at the top of the chart represents the contribution of renewables such as wind and solar.

Figure 2: OECD energy use by fuel type

Source IEA

Australia pops up in predictable places in the stats – we make the top 10 countries in the world for coal production, export and as fuel for electricity generation; top 10 for gas production and export and top 10 for solar. Curiously we are slightly higher in the capacity rankings for solar (8th) than the output rankings (9th) despite having better solar resources than most if not all the other countries on the list. This probably reflects our unusually high proportion of (less efficient) rooftop PV compared to utility scale solar. The data is from 2018, so we may well find ourselves rising up the rankings in the next couple of years given the big step up in renewables commissioned last year.

Perhaps most notably, we are 3rd on the global list for importing oil products, despite having some of our own crude oil resources. This indicates that a switch to electric vehicles could improve our trade balance.

While there are no rankings for greenhouse gas emissions, our emissions per person are higher than almost every country in the world, bar a few petro-states

Price-wise, we have some of the lowest petrol prices in the OECD, beaten only by Canada in the US, while for household electricity, we are somewhere in the middle of the pack – a lot higher than the US, Canada and Korea, but well below the likes of Germany and Denmark.

On the price front, the most notable data is that which isn’t there. IEA statistics are provided by member governments. Our government has declined for many years to provide industrial electricity or gas prices. Given a key issue in the ongoing energy debate has been about the international competitiveness of our energy prices (or rathe lack of competitiveness) it is astonishing that the government does not collect data that would allow it to report to the IEA and give some indication of how (un)competitive our industrial energy prices really are. Many years ago, the industry body esaa (now succeeded by the Australia Energy Council) collected this data, which would have served the government’s purpose, but they gave up more than a decade ago, leaving a gap to be filled by claim and counterclaim.