Energy efficiency indicators for public electricity production from fossil fuels

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Electricity production is responsible for 32% of total global fossil fuel use, accounting for 132 EJ, and 41%, or 10.9 Gt of energy-related CO2 emissions. Improving the efficiency of electricity production therefore offers economic benefits and a significant opportunity for reducing dependence on fossil fuels, which helps to combat climate change and improve energy security.

A set of indicators has been developed to analyse the energy efficiency of electricity production from fossil fuels on a global level and for a number of key countries and regions. These indicators show the efficiency of electricity production from coal, natural gas and oil separately and from all fossil fuels together. The technical potentials for energy and CO2 savings from improving the energy efficiency of electricity production are also calculated.

The global average efficiencies of electricity production are 34% for coal, 40% for natural gas and 37% for oil. For all fossil fuels, the global average efficiency is 36%. Wide variations are seen in efficiencies amongst countries, with OECD countries typically having the highest efficiencies. The level of efficiency has been slowly improving in recent years in most countries.

However, significant fuel and CO2 saving potentials still exist. Across all fossil fuels the technical fuel savings potential is between 21 EJ and 29 EJ per year, with an associated CO2 reduction potential of 1.8 Gt CO2 to 2.5 Gt CO2 per year. The largest savings are from improving the efficiency of coal-fired plants, which alone could provide savings of between 15 EJ and 21 EJ (1.4 Gt CO2 to 2.0 Gt CO2). On a regional basis, just less than half the global savings would come from OECD countries, with the remainder from developing countries.

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