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Sub-Saharan Renewables in Global Energy Markets

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Over recent decades, energy use across the world has increased considerably. From 1990 to 2015, total global energy consumption rose by 62%, driven mainly by higher energy consumption in emerging markets such as Africa and the Middle East. Higher energy consumption in Asia-Pacific has also been driven by fast-growing industrialising nations such as China, where total energy consumption grew 241% from 1995 to 2015.

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Liquid fuel consumption remains the leading source of global energy use, making up around a third of consumption. However, over the past 25 years, the total global share of energy from liquid fuels has consistently fallen. In fact, total consumption of liquid fuels fell 8% from 1990 to 2015 in Europe.

While the share of global energy from hydroelectric, nuclear and natural gas sources has remained relatively flat, coal power now makes up a greater share of total energy than it did a quarter of a century ago. In particular, the emerging industrial economies in Asia, especially China, have boosted demand for coal power substantially in recent years. Total coal consumption grew by over 200% in both Asia-Pacific and the Middle East from 1990 to 2015. In contrast, coal use has fallen by 50% in Europe over this time, and across OECD nations coal consumption has been broadly declining since around 2007.

Renewable energy made up a negligible proportion of all energy two decades ago but is now a vital element of national grid systems. Technological advances and falling prices relative to non-renewable energies mean renewables’ share of global energy has increased nine-fold from 1995 to 2015.

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