World Energy Demand China Overtakes USA as Top Consumer as World Energy Demand grows Strongly

Editor: Marcel Dröttboom

According to the 60th annual BP Statistical Review of World Energy, China became the world’s largest energy consumer in 2010 overtaking the USA during a year which saw the rebound in the global economy drive consumption higher and at a rate not seen since the aftermath of the 1973 oil price shocks.

Related Company

China has overtaken the USA as top consumer as World Energy Demand grows strongly.
China has overtaken the USA as top consumer as World Energy Demand grows strongly.
( Picture: © BP p.l.c. )

London, United Kingdom – Demand for all forms of energy grew strongly in 2010 and increases in fossil fuel consumption suggest that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy use rose at their fastest rate since 1969.

The growth in energy consumption was broad-based, with both mature OECD economies and non-OECD countries growing at above-average rates.

The figures come from recently published 60th annual BP Statistical Review of World Energy, the longest-running, consistent set of objective, global energy data used by business, academics, and governments to inform policy and decision making.


The strong rebound of global energy consumption in 2010 followed the recent global recession. Consumption growth reached 5.6 per cent, the highest rate since 1973. It increased strongly for all forms of energy and in all regions. Total consumption of energy in 2010 easily surpassed the pre-recession peak reached in 2008.

Globally, energy consumption grew more rapidly than the economy, meaning that the energy intensity of economic activity increased for a second consecutive year. The data imply that global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption will also have grown strongly last year.

Demand in OECD countries grew by 3.5 per cent, the strongest growth rate since 1984, although the level of OECD consumption remains roughly in line with that seen 10 years ago. Non-OECD consumption grew by 7.5 per cent and was 63 per cent above the 2000 level. Consumption growth accelerated in 2010 for all regions, and growth was above average in all regions. Chinese energy consumption grew by 11.2 per cent, and China surpassed the US as the world’s largest energy consumer. Oil remains the world’s leading fuel, at 33.6 per cent of global energy consumption, but it continued to lose market share for the 11th consecutive year.

Coal and Biofuels

Like all other fuels, coal consumption growth was above average in 2010 – rising by 7.6 per cent (250 million tonnes of oil equivalent. The shift toward non-OECD consumption continued, with China and India increasing coal use by 10.1 per cent and 10.8 per cent. OECD coal consumption also rose by 5.2 per cent, the fastest rate for 31 years and hard on the heels of a decline of more than 10 per cent in 2009. Among all the fossil fuels, coal consumption grew the fastest.

For the first time this year the Review includes data on renewables other than hydroelectricity. Biofuels production grew by 13.8 per cent, largely in the US and Brazil. Renewables in power generation—including wind, solar, geothermal energy and commercial biomass—grew by 15.5 per cent, with OECD countries accounting for most of the growth though China’s output from renewables grew by 75 per cent and accounted for the second-largest increment after the US. Combined, these sources met 1.8 per cent of the world’s energy needs, a market share which has tripled in the past decade. Over the last five years, their contribution to world primary energy growth was almost 10 per cent – that is, higher than the contribution of petroleum-based products.