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Wind and solar added more to global energy than any other source in 2023

Although the record global demand for energy also meant that the consumption of coal and oil reached a new high last year, the carbon footprint of the world's energy industry is still very high, the Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy 2024 finds.

Wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels in Guizhou, China. Credit: Cynthia Lee / Alamy Stock Photo
Image: Cynthia Lee / Alamy Stock Photo

This pushed global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to another record in 2023, the world’s first full year with no impact from the coronavirus pandemic, the data shows.

Key figures from the report include:

  • Global energy demand reached a record high of 620 exajoules (EJ) in 2023, with annual growth of 2.0%, slightly above the 1.5% per year average for the last decade.
  • Wind and solar together were the largest source of new energy in 2023, adding 4.9EJ or 40% of the increase overall. The rest of the net increase came from oil (+4.8EJ, 39% of the increase), coal (+2.5EJ, 20%), nuclear (+0.4EJ, 4%) and other non-hydro renewables (+0.5EJ, 4%), while gas stayed flat and hydro declined (-0.9EJ, -8%).
  • Global energy use from coal grew 1.6% year-on-year to a record high of 164EJ, passing the previous record of 162EJ, set a decade earlier in 2014.
  • Global energy use from oil grew 2.5% to a record high of 196EJ, comfortably above the previous high of 193EJ set in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Global energy use from gas was unchanged at 144EJ. It has now flatlined for two years since the global energy crisis, due to Russia cutting off gas supplies to Europe.
  • Global electricity generation from coal grew by 189 terawatt hours (TWh, 1.8%) year-on-year to a record high of 10,513TWh. This was despite wind and solar adding a record 537TWh of new generation, up a combined 15.7% year-on-year to 3,967TWh.
  • The new highs for coal and oil use drove global emissions to another record, with releases from fossil fuel burning, industrial processes, methane and flaring topping 40bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) for the first time.

Read the full report on the CarbonBrief website.