World Energy Consumption - Trends


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 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 USA by 20%, the EU-27 block by 7%, and world overall grew by 39%.

In 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 474 exajoules (474×1018 J=132,000 TWh). This is equivalent to an average power use of 15 terawatts (1.504×1013 W). The annual potential for renewable energy is: solar energy 1575 EJ (438,000 TWh), wind power 640 EJ (178,000 TWh), geothermal energy 5000 EJ (1,390,000 TWh), biomass 276 EJ (77,000 TWh), hydropower 50 EJ (14,000 TWh) and ocean energy 1 EJ (280 TWh).

Energy consumption in the G20 increased by more than 5% in 2010 after a slight decline of 2009. In 2009, world energy consumption decreased for the first time in 30 years, by −1.1% (equivalent to 130 Megatonnes of oil), 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, consumptions 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), hard coal 14% (793/5,845 Mt) and electricity 1% (269/20,181 TWh).

Most of the world's 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 wind, hydro- or wave power. The amount of energy is measured by satellite to be roughly 1368 watts per square meter, though it fluctuates by about 6.9% during the year due to the Earth's varying distance from the sun. This value is the total rate of solar energy received by the planet; about half, 89 PW, 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 YJ (1 YJ = 1024J) 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 energy flux from the sun is 3.8 YJ/yr, dwarfing all non-renewable resources.

Regional energy use (kWh/capita & TWh) and growth 1990–2008 (%)
kWh/capita Population (million) Energy use (1,000 TWh)
1990 2008 Growth 1990 2008 Growth 1990 2008 Growth
USA 89,021 87,216 – 2% 250 305 22% 22.3 26.6 20%
EU-27 40,240 40,821 1% 473 499 5% 19.0 20.4 7%
Middle East 19,422 34,774 79% 132 199 51% 2.6 6.9 170%
China 8,839 18,608 111% 1,141 1,333 17% 10.1 24.8 146%
Latin America 11,281 14,421 28% 355 462 30% 4.0 6.7 66%
Africa 7,094 7,792 10% 634 984 55% 4.5 7.7 70%
India 4,419 6,280 42% 850 1,140 34% 3.8 7.2 91%
Others* 25,217 23,871 nd 1,430 1,766 23% 36.1 42.2 17%
The World 19,422 21,283 10% 5,265 6,688 27% 102.3 142.3 39%

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