What is the distribution of world energy consumption?

Traditionally energy has been generated for human consumption by burning fuels such as wood and coal. Indeed, the industrial revolution was built on the burning of coal. Energy is critical for economic development. It powers factories and machinery as well as providing fuel for transportation. The amount of energy used depends on a variety of factors, including how developed a country is, where people live and how wealthy they are. In the past, many countries depended on their own energy resources, however, today the situation is much more complex with energy being traded on global markets. There has also been an increasing shift towards renewable energy from wind, waves, solar and nuclear power generation.

As the world is becoming increasingly interconnected the demands for goods and services has continued to increase. Lower Income Countries and Newly Emerging Economies are becoming increasingly industrialised, and consequently, the demand for resources has grown with it. Today, we find that generally, the Northern Hemisphere is the largest consumer of energy with the United States, China and Saudi Arabia respectively. However, the reasons for their high consumption rates differ. Saudi Arabia is the largest producer of fossil fuels in the world and can use this abundant resource for its own consumption at a relatively low cost. China’s consumption has been increasing due to its growing population as well as its significant industrial growth in the past two decades. Notably, most African nations (particularly situated in central/ equatorial regions) consume the lowest amounts of energy in comparison to the rest of the world.


In conclusion, there is a strong positive correlation between energy consumed by a nation and its economic development. It is likely that over the coming few decades global energy consumption will continue to increase with increasing debate about the most sustainable ways to generate it.

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