March 27 (UPI) -- Energy demand worldwide expanded at a 2.3 percent rate last year that was its fastest in a decade due to stronger expansion in some regions, or stronger and cooler needs in some regions.
"Demand for all fuels increased, with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70 percent of the growth for the second year running. Solar and wind generation grew at a double-digit pace," the Paris-based International Energy Agency reported.
"We have seen an extraordinary increase in global energy demand in 2018, growing at its fastest pace this decade," said Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director.
Demand for natural gas increased the most, specifically in the United States and China, and the fuel accounted for 45 percent in energy consumption.
"Still, that was not fast enough to meet higher electricity demand around the world that also drove up coal use," it added. This resulted in an expansion of global energy-related CO2 emissions by 1.7 percent to 33 gigatons in 2018.
Most of the increase in coal demand came from a young fleet of power plants in Asia, where their lifetime is expected to extend four decades.
Global electricity demand expanded 4 percent last year, due to added capacity, and now accounts for about 20 percent of total final energy consumption.
Almost a fifth of the increase in global energy demand came from higher demand for heating and cooling as it exceeded historical records. China, the United States and India accounted for nearly 70 percent of the total, with the U.S. seeing the biggest crude and gas demand increase.
"Gas consumption jumped 10 percent from the previous year, the fastest increase since the beginning of IEA records in 1971. The annual increase in U.S. demand last year was equivalent to the United Kingdom's current gas consumption," the IEA added.
Crude oil demand expanded 1.3 percent worldwide last year "with the U.S. again leading the global increase for the first time in 20 years thanks to a strong expansion in petrochemicals, rising industrial production and trucking services," it said.
Nuclear energy demand expanded 3.3 percent in 2018, "with global generation reaching pre-Fukushima levels, mainly as a result of new additions in China and the restart of four reactors in Japan."
The IEA was set up decades ago by western countries that were large energy importers as an energy intelligence group to balance that of OPEC, made up of oil exporting nations.
The OPEC also publishes reports, as one issued in December with projections for greater energy consumption ahead, including a rise in 1.3 million barrels per day of crude oil demand.