World energy consumption
World energy consumption is the total energy produced and used by humans. Typically measured per year, it involves all energy harnessed from every energy source applied towards activity across all industrial and technological sectors, in every country. It does not include energy from food. World energy consumption has implications for the socio-economic-political sphere.
Institutions such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the European Environment Agency (EEA) record and publish energy data periodically. Improved data and understanding of world energy consumption may reveal systemic trends and patterns, which could help frame current energy issues and encourage movement towards collectively useful solutions.
Closely related to energy consumption is the concept of total primary energy supply (TPES), which – on a global level – is the sum of energy production minus storage changes. Since changes of energy storage over the year are minor, TPES values can be used as an estimator for energy consumption. However, TPES ignores conversion efficiency, overstating forms of energy with poor conversion efficiency (e.g. coal, gas and nuclear) and understating forms already accounted for in converted forms (e.g. photovoltaics or hydroelectricity). The IEA estimates that, in 2013, total primary energy supply (TPES) was 157.5 petawatt hours or 1.575×1017 Wh (157.5 thousand TWh; 5.67×1020 J; 13.54 billion toe) or about 18 TW-year. From 2000 to 2012 coal was the source of energy with the total largest growth. The use of oil and natural gas also had considerable growth, followed by hydropower and renewable energy. Renewable energy grew at a rate faster than any other time in history during this period. The demand for nuclear energy decreased, in part due to nuclear disasters (Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986, and Fukushima in 2011). More recently, consumption of coal has declined relative to renewable energy. Coal dropped from about 29% of the global total primary energy consumption in 2015 to 27% in 2017, and non-hydro renewables were up to about 4% from 2%.
In 2010, expenditures on energy totaled over US$6 trillion, or about 10% of the world gross domestic product (GDP). Europe spends close to one-quarter of the world's energy expenditures, North America close to 20%, and Japan 6%.
Energy supply, consumption and electricity
|1 converted from Mtoe into TWh (1 Mtoe = 11.63 TWh) |
and from Quad BTU into TWh (1 Quad BTU = 293.07 TWh)
World total primary energy supply (TPES), or "primary energy" differs from the world final energy consumption because much of the energy that is acquired by humans is lost as other forms of energy during the process of its refinement into usable forms of energy and its transport from its initial place of supply to consumers. For instance, when oil is extracted from the ground it must be refined into gasoline, so that it can be used in a car, and transported over long distances to gas stations where it can be used by consumers. World final energy consumption refers to the fraction of the world's primary energy that is used in its final form by humanity.
Also one needs to bear in mind that there are different qualities of energy. Heat, especially at a relatively low temperature, is low-quality energy, whereas electricity is high-quality energy. It takes around 3 kWh of heat to produce 1 kWh of electricity. But by the same token, a kilowatt-hour of this high-quality electricity can be used to pump several kilowatt-hours of heat into a building using a heat pump. And electricity can be used in many ways in which heat cannot. So the "loss" of energy incurred when generating electricity is not the same as a loss due to, say, resistance in power lines.
In 2014, world primary energy supply amounted to 155,481 terawatt-hour (TWh) or 13,541 million tonne of oil equivalent (Mtoe), while the world final energy consumption was 109,613 TWh or about 29.5% less than the total supply. World final energy consumption includes products as lubricants, asphalt and petrochemicals which have chemical energy content but are not used as fuel. This non-energy use amounted to 9,723 TWh (836 Mtoe) in 2015.
The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) regularly publishes a report on world consumption for most types of primary energy resources. For 2013, estimated world energy consumption was 5.67 × 1020 joules, or 157,481 TWh. According to the IEA the total world energy consumption in past years was 143,851 TWh in 2008, 133,602 TWh in 2005, 117,687 TWh in 2000, and 102,569 TWh in 1990. In 2012 approximately 22% of world energy was consumed in North America, 5% was consumed in South and Central America, 23% was consumed in Europe and Eurasia, 3% was consumed in Africa, and 40% was consumed in the Asia Pacific region.
The total amount of electricity consumed worldwide was 19,504 TWh in 2013, 16,503 TWh in 2008, 15,105 TWh in 2005, and 12,116 TWh in 2000. By the end of 2014, the total installed electricity generating capacity worldwide was nearly 6.14 TW (million MW) which only includes generation connected to local electricity grids. In addition, there is an unknown amount of heat and electricity consumed off-grid by isolated villages and industries. In 2014, the share of world energy consumption for electricity generation by source was coal at 41%, natural gas at 22%, hydro at 16%, nuclear at 11%, other sources (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, etc.) at 6% and oil at 4%. Coal and natural gas were the most used energy fuels for generating electricity. The world's electricity consumption was 18,608 TWh in 2012. This figure is about 18% smaller than the generated electricity, due to grid losses, storage losses, and self-consumption from power plants (gross generation). Cogeneration (CHP) power stations use some of the heat that is otherwise wasted for use in buildings or industrial processes.
In 2016 the total world energy came from 80% fossil fuels, 10% biofuels, 5% nuclear, and 5% renewable (hydro, wind, solar, geothermal). Only 18% of that total world energy was in the form of electricity. Most of the other 82% was used for heat and transportation.
Recently there has been a large increase in international agreements and national Energy Action Plans, such as the EU 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, to increase the use of renewable energy due to the growing concerns about pollution from energy sources that come from fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. One such initiative was the United Nations Development Programme's World Energy Assessment in 2000 that highlighted many challenges humanity would have to overcome in order to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. From 2000 to 2012 renewable energy grew at a rate higher than any other point in history, with a consumption increase of 176.5 million tonnes of oil. During this period, oil, coal, and natural gas continued to grow and had increases that were much higher than the increase in renewable energy. The following figures illustrate the growth in consumption of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas as well as renewable sources of energy during this period.
The energy consumption growth in the G20 slowed down to 2% in 2011, after the strong increase of 2010. The economic crisis is largely responsible for this slow growth. For several years now, the world energy demand is characterized by the bullish Chinese and Indian markets, while developed countries struggle with stagnant economies, high oil prices, resulting in stable or decreasing energy consumption.
According to IEA data from 1990 to 2008, the average energy use per person increased 10% while the world population increased 27%. Regional energy use also grew from 1990 to 2008: the Middle East increased by 170%, China by 146%, India by 91%, Africa by 70%, Latin America by 66%, the United States by 20%, the European Union by 7%, and world overall grew by 39%.
In 2008, total worldwide primary energy consumption was 132,000 terawatt-hours (TWh) or 474 exajoules (EJ). In 2012, primary energy demand increased to 158,000 TWh (567 EJ).
The production and usage of electronic devices, data traffic, and storage is growing 9% per year and is expected to use 3.3% of the world's electricity supply in 2020 (vs. 1.9% in 2013). In 2017 data centers consumed 19% of the global digital energy consumption. Internet traffic is expanding 25% per year, meaning the number of data centers is expanding very quickly, increasing energy consumption dramatically.
Energy consumption in the G20 increased by more than 5% in 2010 after a slight decline in 2009. In 2009, world energy consumption decreased for the first time in 30 years by 1.1%, or about 130 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), as a result of the financial and economic crisis, which reduced world GDP by 0.6% in 2009.
This evolution is the result of two contrasting trends: Energy consumption growth remained vigorous in several developing countries, specifically in Asia (+4%). Conversely, in OECD, consumption was severely cut by 4.7% in 2009 and was thus almost down to its 2000 levels. In North America, Europe and the CIS, consumption shrank by 4.5%, 5%, and 8.5% respectively due to the slowdown in economic activity. China became the world's largest energy consumer (18% of the total) since its consumption surged by 8% during 2009 (up from 4% in 2008). Oil remained the largest energy source (33%) despite the fact that its share has been decreasing over time. Coal posted a growing role in the world's energy consumption: in 2009, it accounted for 27% of the total.
Most energy is used in the country of origin, since it is cheaper to transport final products than raw materials. In 2008, the share export of the total energy production by fuel was: oil 50% (1,952/3,941 Mt), gas 25% (800/3,149 bcm) and hard coal 14% (793/5,845 Mt).
Most of the world's high energy resources are from the conversion of the sun's rays to other energy forms after being incident upon the planet. Some of that energy has been preserved as fossil energy, some is directly or indirectly usable; for example, via solar PV/thermal, wind, hydro- or wave power. The total solar irradiance is measured by satellite to be roughly 1361 watts per square meter (see solar constant), though it fluctuates by about 6.9% during the year due to the Earth's varying distance from the sun. This value, after multiplication by the cross-sectional area intercepted by the Earth, is the total rate of solar energy received by the planet; about half, 89,000 TW, reaches the Earth's surface.
The estimates of remaining non-renewable worldwide energy resources vary, with the remaining fossil fuels totaling an estimated 0.4 yottajoule (YJ) or 4 × 1023 joules, and the available nuclear fuel such as uranium exceeding 2.5 YJ. Fossil fuels range from 0.6 to 3 YJ if estimates of reserves of methane clathrates are accurate and become technically extractable. The total power flux from the sun intercepting the Earth is 5.5 YJ per year, though not all of this is available for human consumption. The IEA estimates for the world to meet global energy demand for the two decades from 2015 to 2035 it will require investment of $48 trillion and "credible policy frameworks."
According to IEA (2012), the goal of limiting warming to 2 °C is becoming more difficult and costly with each year that passes. If action is not taken before 2017, CO2 emissions would be locked-in by energy infrastructure existing in 2017. Fossil fuels are dominant in the global energy mix, supported by $523 billion subsidies in 2011, up almost 30% on 2010 and six times more than subsidies to renewables.
|kWh/capita||Population (million)||Energy use (1,000 TWh)|
|Source: IEA/OECD, Population OECD/World Bank
Global warming emissions resulting from energy production are an environmental problem. Efforts to resolve this include the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the Paris Agreement (2015), international governmental agreements aiming to reduce harmful climate impacts, which a number of nations have signed. Limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, thought to be a risk by the SEI, is now doubtful.
To limit global temperature to a hypothetical 2 degrees Celsius rise would demand a 75% decline in carbon emissions in industrial countries by 2050, if the population is 10 billion in 2050. Across 40 years, this averages to a 2% decrease every year. In 2011, the emissions of energy production continued rising regardless of the consensus of the basic problem. Hypothetically, according to Robert Engelman (Worldwatch Institute), in order to prevent collapse, human civilization would have to stop increasing emissions within a decade regardless of the economy or population (2009).
Greenhouse gases are not the only emissions of energy production and consumption. Large amounts of pollutants such as sulphurous oxides (SOx), nitrous oxides (NOx), and particulate matter (PM) are produced from the combustion of fossil fuels and biomass; the World Health Organization estimates that 7 million premature deaths are caused each year by air pollution. Biomass combustion is a major contributor. In addition to producing air pollution like fossil fuel combustion, most biomass has high CO2 emissions.
The twentieth century saw a rapid twenty-fold increase in the use of fossil fuels. Between 1980 and 2006, the worldwide annual growth rate was 2%. According to the US Energy Information Administration's 2006 estimate, the estimated 471.8 EJ total consumption in 2004, was divided as given in the table above, with fossil fuels supplying 86% of the world's energy:
In 2000, China accounted for 28% of world coal consumption, other Asia consumed 19%, North America 25% and the EU 14%. The single greatest coal-consuming country is China. Its share of the world coal production was 28% in 2000 and rose to 48% in 2009. In contrast to China's ~70% increase in coal consumption, world coal use increased 48% from 2000 to 2009. In practice, the majority of this growth occurred in China and the rest in other Asia. China's energy consumption is mostly driven by the industry sector, the majority of which comes from coal consumption.
Coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the world. According to James Hansen the single most important action needed to tackle the climate crisis is to reduce CO2 emissions from coal. Indonesia and Australia exported together 57.1% of the world coal export in 2011. China, Japan, South Korea, India and Taiwan had 65% share of all the world coal import in 2011.
Coal fueled the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th century. With the advent of the automobile, aeroplanes and the spreading use of electricity, oil became the dominant fuel during the twentieth century. The growth of oil as the largest fossil fuel was further enabled by steadily dropping prices from 1920 until 1973. After the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, during which the price of oil increased from 5 to 45 US dollars per barrel, there was a shift away from oil. Coal, natural gas, and nuclear became the fuels of choice for electricity generation and conservation measures increased energy efficiency. In the U.S. the average car more than doubled the number of miles per gallon. Japan, which bore the brunt of the oil shocks, made spectacular improvements and now has the highest energy efficiency in the world. From 1965 to 2008, the use of fossil fuels has continued to grow and their share of the energy supply has increased. From 2003 to 2008, coal was the fastest growing fossil fuel.
In 2009, the world use of natural gas grew 31% compared to 2000. 66% of this growth was outside EU, North America, Latin America, and Russia. Others include the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The gas supply increased also in the previous regions: 8.6% in the EU and 16% in the North America 2000–2009.
|Asia excl. China||2,744||4,074||4,348||4,799||14%|
|Source: IEA, in 2009, 2010 BP|
Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that comes from resources that are not significantly depleted by their use, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Renewable energy is gradually replacing conventional fuels in four distinct areas: electricity generation, hot water/space heating, motor fuels, and rural (off-grid) energy services.
Based on REN21's 2019 report, renewables contributed 18.1 percent to the world's energy consumption and 26 percent to its electricity generation in 2017 and 2018, respectively. This energy consumption is divided as 7.5% coming from traditional biomass, 4.2% as heat energy (non-biomass), 1% biofuels for transport, 3.6% hydro electricity and 2% electricity from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and ocean power. Worldwide investments in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$289 billion in 2018, with countries like China and the United States heavily investing in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels. Renewable energy resources exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources, which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits. In international public opinion surveys there is strong support for promoting renewable sources such as solar power and wind power. At the national level, at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 percent of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond.
From 2000 to 2013 the total renewable energy use has increased by 6,450 TWh and total energy use by 40,500 TWh.
Hydroelectricity is the term referring to electricity generated by hydropower; the production of electrical power through the use of the kinetic energy of falling or flowing water. In 2015 hydropower generated 16.6% of the world's total electricity and 70% of renewable electricity. In 2019 it made up 6.5% of total energy use. Hydropower is produced in 150 countries, with the Asia-Pacific region generating 32 percent of global hydropower in 2010. China is the largest hydroelectricity producer, with 2,600 PJ (721 TWh) of production in 2010, representing around 17% of domestic electricity use. There are now three hydroelectricity plants larger than 10 GW: the Three Gorges Dam in China, Itaipu Dam in Brazil, and Guri Dam in Venezuela. Nine of the worlds top 10 renewable electricity producers are primarily hydroelectric, one is wind.
Wind power is growing at the rate of 11% annually, with a worldwide installed capacity of 539,123 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2017, and is widely used in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Several countries have achieved relatively high levels of wind power penetration: wind power produced the equivalent of 47% of Denmark's total electricity consumption in 2019, 18% in Portugal, 16% in Spain, 14% in Ireland and 9% in Germany in 2010. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis. In 2019 wind made up 2.2% of total energy use.
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar energy technologies include solar heating, solar photovoltaics, concentrated solar power and solar architecture, which can make considerable contributions to solving some of the most urgent problems the world now faces. The International Energy Agency projected that solar power could provide "a third of the global final energy demand after 2060, while CO2 emissions would be reduced to very low levels." Solar technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on the way they capture, convert, and distribute solar energy. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic systems and solar thermal collectors to harness the energy. Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air. In 2012 it make up 0.18% of energy use which increase to 1.1% in 2019.
Geothermal energy is used commercially in over 70 countries. In 2004, 200 petajoules (56 TWh) of electricity was generated from geothermal resources, and an additional 270 petajoules (75 TWh) of geothermal energy was used directly, mostly for space heating. In 2007, the world had a global capacity for 10 GW of electricity generation and an additional 28 GW of direct heating, including extraction by geothermal heat pumps. Heat pumps are small and widely distributed, so estimates of their total capacity are uncertain and range up to 100 GW. It was estimated that geothermal heat pumps had, in 2015, a total capacity of about 50 GW producing about 455 petajoules (126 TWh) per year.
Until the beginning of the nineteenth-century biomass was the predominant fuel, today it has only a small share of the overall energy supply. Electricity produced from biomass sources was estimated at 44 GW for 2005. Biomass electricity generation increased by over 100% in Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. A further 220 GW was used for heating (in 2004), bringing the total energy consumed from biomass to around 264 GW. The use of biomass fires for cooking is excluded. World production of bioethanol increased by 8% in 2005 to reach 33 gigalitres (8.7×109 US gal), with most of the increase in the United States, bringing it level to the levels of consumption in Brazil. Biodiesel increased by 85% to 3.9 gigalitres (1.0×109 US gal), making it the fastest-growing renewable energy source in 2005. Over 50% is produced in Germany.
Marine energy, also known as ocean energy and marine and hydrokinetic energy (MHK) includes tidal and wave power and is a relatively new sector of renewable energy, with most projects still in the pilot phase, but the theoretical potential is equivalent to 4–18 Mtoe. MHK development in U.S. and international waters includes projects using devices such as wave energy converters in open coastal areas with significant waves, tidal turbines placed in coastal and estuarine areas, in-stream turbines in fast-moving rivers, ocean current turbines in areas of strong marine currents, and ocean thermal energy converters in deep tropical waters.
Annual generation of nuclear power has been on a slight downward trend since 2007, decreasing 1.8% in 2009 to 2558 TWh, and another 1.6% in 2011 to 2518 TWh, despite increases in production from most countries worldwide, because those increases were more than offset by decreases in Germany and Japan. Nuclear power met 11.7% of the world's electricity demand in 2011. Source: IEA/OECD.
While all the commercial reactors today use nuclear fission energy, there are plans to use nuclear fusion energy for future power plants. Several international nuclear fusion reactor experiments exist or are being constructed, including ITER.
Energy consumption is loosely correlated with gross national product and climate, but there is a large difference even between the most highly developed countries, such as Japan and Germany with an energy consumption rate of 6 kW per person and the United States with an energy consumption rate of 11.4 kW per person. In developing countries, particularly those that are sub-tropical or tropical such as India, the per person energy use rate is closer to 0.7 kW. Bangladesh has the lowest consumption rate with 0.2 kW per person.
The US consumes 25% of the world's energy with a share of global GDP at 22% and a share of the world population at 4.6%. The most significant growth of energy consumption is currently taking place in China, which has been growing at 5.5% per year over the last 25 years. Its population of 1.3 billion people (19.6% of the world population) is consuming energy at a rate of 1.6 kW per person.
One measurement of efficiency is energy intensity. This is a measure of the amount of energy it takes a country to produce a dollar of gross domestic product.
Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States accounted for 34% of oil production in 2011. Saudi Arabia, Russia and Nigeria accounted for 36% of oil export in 2011.
|bcm = billion cubic meters|
|% world total|
|(rest of world)||48.5||14.1|
|World total||344.8 TWh||100%|
The table to the right shows the amounts of energy consumed worldwide in 2012 by four sectors, according to the Energy Information Administration of the US Department of Energy:
- Residential (heating, lighting, and appliances)
- Commercial (lighting, heating and cooling of commercial buildings, and provision of water and sewer services)
- Industrial users (agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction)
- Transportation (passenger, freight, and pipeline)
Of the total 120 PWh (120×1015 Wh) consumed, 19.4 were in the form of electricity, but this electricity required 61.7 PWh to produce. Thus the total energy consumption was around 160 PWh (ca 550×1015 Btu). The efficiency of a typical existing power plant is around 38%. The new generation of gas-fired plants reaches a substantially higher efficiency of 55%. Coal is the most common fuel for the world's electricity plants.
Another report gives different values for the sectors, apparently due to different definitions. According to this, total world energy use per sector in 2008 was industry 28%, transport 27% and residential and service 36%. Division was about the same in the year 2000.
The European Environmental Agency (EEA) measures final energy consumption (does not include energy used in production and lost in transportation) and finds that the transport sector is responsible for 32% of final energy consumption, households 26%, industry 26%, services 14% and agriculture 3% in 2012. The use of energy is responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions (79%), with the energy sector representing 31 p.p., transport 19 p.p., industry 13 p.p., households 9 p.p.and others 7 p.p.
While efficient energy use and resource efficiency are growing as public policy issues, more than 70% of coal plants in the European Union are more than 20 years old and operate at an efficiency level of between 32 and 40%. Technological developments in the 1990s have allowed efficiencies in the range of 40–45% at newer plants. However, according to an impact assessment by the European Commission, this is still below the best available technological (BAT) efficiency levels of 46–49%. With gas-fired power plants the average efficiency is 52% compared to 58–59% with best available technology (BAT), and gas and oil boiler plants operate at average 36% efficiency (BAT delivers 47%). According to that same impact assessment by the European Commission, raising the efficiency of all new plants and the majority of existing plants, through the setting of authorisation and permit conditions, to an average generation efficiency of 52% in 2020 would lead to a reduction in annual consumption of 15 km3 (3.6 cu mi) of natural gas and 25 Mt (25,000,000 long tons; 28,000,000 short tons) of coal.
- Cubic mile of oil
- Domestic energy consumption
- Earth's energy budget
- Electric energy consumption
- Energy demand management
- Energy development
- Energy intensity
- Energy policy
- Environmental impact of aviation
- Energy security and renewable technology
- Kardashev scale
- Life-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions of energy sources
- Peak oil
- Renewable energy commercialization
- Sustainable energy
- World Energy Outlook
- World energy resources
- List of countries by carbon dioxide emissions
- List of countries by electricity consumption
- List of countries by electricity production
- List of countries by total primary energy consumption and production
- List of countries by energy consumption per capita
- List of countries by energy intensity
- List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions
- List of countries by renewable electricity production
- List of renewable energy topics by country
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