Middle East bucks global trend on energy intensity
Worldwide fall of 1.2% due to efficiency gains and high energy prices
The Middle East is alone in recording an increase in energy intensity – the energy required per unit of GDP - over the 20 year period between 1990 and 2010, according to a new report released by ABB. The new research has found that energy intensity worldwide has decreased by 1.2% since 1990, as ‘significant progress’ has been made on gains in energy efficiency measures.
The industry-bucking trend in the Middle East is attributed to factors such as the predominance of energy-intensive industry in the region, together with much lower energy prices. In addition, gains are largely due to a steep rise in the electricity use of the region’s transformation sector, a natural consequence of the rapid development in electricity use which is almost completely generated from thermal energy sources.
The report has also demonstrated a three percent increase in the energy efficiency of thermal power plants since 1990, increasing from 32% to 35% in 2010. Despite this increase, the potential to make much greater energy savings is present – if all regions were able to increase efficiency to 45%, the report suggests that fossil fuel consumption in power generation could be reduce by around 30%.
Turning to power grid efficiency, the results have found that transmission and distribution losses (T&D) were about 9% globally in 2010. Sharp improvements in the efficiency of grids in Asia (excluding India) were offset by rises in T&D losses in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Middle East, where losses increased from 9% to 12% in 2010.
In a focus on Saudi Arabia, the figures suggest that the Kingdom’s power sector efficiency increased regularly between 1990 and 2010, increasing from 27% to 31%, driven up by the increased market share of gas-fired power capacity. Electricity consumption per capita was, perhaps unsurprisingly, found to be increasing rapidly - 6.2% per year – with a 2010 figure of 8,300 kWh/capita, compared with a global average of just 2,700kWh/cap.