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World energy supply

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World energy supply refers to the global production and preparation of fuel (fossil and nuclear), generation of electricity, and energy transport. Here contemporary energy supply is outlined, statistical data rather than policy. Energy supply is a vast industry, powering the world economy. More than 10% of the world expenditures is used for energy purposes.[1]

Short lists of countries are given where most energy is produced[2] and where it is consumed, distinguishing fossil, nuclear and renewable energy. Of all produced energy 80% is fossil. Half of that is produced by China, the United States and the Persian Gulf States. The Gulf States and Norway export most of their production, largely to the European Union and Japan where not sufficient energy is produced to satisfy their users. Energy production increases slowly, except for solar and wind energy which grows more than 20% per year.

Produced energy, for instance crude oil, must be processed to make it suitable for consumption by end users. So the supply chain between production and final consumption involves many conversion activities and much trade and transport among countries, causing a loss of one third of energy before it is consumed.

Institutions such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) collect, analyze and publish comprehensive energy data periodically. In the country lists below these data are used.

Worldwide carbon dioxide emission from fuel combustion was 32 gigaton in 2013.[3] In view of contemporary energy policy of countries the IEA expects[4] that the worldwide energy consumption in 2040 will have increased 30% and that the goal, set in the Paris Agreement about Climate Change, will not nearly be reached. The IEA concludes that a major reallocation of investment capital in the energy sector is required.

Energy production

World primary energy production

World total primary energy production

██ World (1015 Btu)[5]

██  China

██  Russia

██  Africa

██  United States

██  Europe

██  Central and South America

Note the different y-axis for world (left) en regional (right) production

This is the world-wide production of primary energy (PE) from fossil, nuclear and renewable sources. Primary means: extracted or captured directly from natural sources. Note the strong production increase of China.

Energy sources are usually classified as

  • fossil, using coal, lignite, petroleum and natural gas,
  • nuclear, using uranium,
  • renewable, using hydro power, biomass, wind and solar energy, among others.

Primary energy assessment follows certain rules[6] to ease measurement and comparison of different kinds of energy. Due to these rules uranium is not counted as PE but as the natural source of nuclear PE. Similarly water and air flow energy that drives hydro and wind turbines, and sunlight that powers solar panels, are not taken as PE but as PE sources (PES).

The table lists the world-wide production and the countries/regions producing most (90%) of that. The Persian Gulf States are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq and Oman, in order of production. The amounts are given in million tonnes of oil equivalent per year (Mtoe/a, 1 Mtoe = 11.63 TWh). The data are of 2013.[7][8]

Coal Oil & Gas Nuclear Renewable
WORLD 13600 29% 52% 5% 14%
China 2560 74% 12% 1% 13%
United States 1880 25% 55% 11% 8%
Persian Gulf States 1742 0% 100% 0% 0%
Russia 1316 14% 81% 3% 2%
Africa 1129 13% 53% 0% 33%
European Union 793 20% 26% 29% 26%
India 523 46% 13% 2% 39%
Indonesia 460 61% 23% 0% 16%
Canada 435 8% 75% 6% 11%
Australia 344 77% 21% 0% 2%
Brazil 253 1% 50% 2% 47%
Mexico 217 3% 89% 1% 7%
Venezuela 192 0% 96% 0% 4%
Norway 192 1% 92% 0% 7%
Kazakhstan 169 31% 69% 0% 0%

Two third of the world renewable supply is non-commercial solid biofuel in developing countries.[9]

The top producers of the USA are Texas 20%, Wyoming 11%, Pennsylvania 8%, W Virginia 5% and Oklahoma 4%. [10]

The top producers in Africa are Nigeria (256), S-Africa (166) and Algeria (138).

In the EU France (136, mainly nuclear), Germany (120), UK (110), Poland (71, mainly coal) and Netherlands (69, mainly natural gas) produce most.


From 2012 to 2014 worldwide production increased 3%, nuclear and fossil rose at about the same rate, renewables increased 6%.[11]

A small part of the renewables, solar and wind energy, increased much more, 46% in this period[12] in line with the strong growth since 1990.[9]

In Brazil windpower inceased 140%, in China not only solar and wind increased fast, 81%, but also nuclear production, 36% from 2012 to 2014.[12]

Between production and final consumption

Primary energy is converted in many ways to energy carriers, also known as secondary energy.

  • Lignite and coal mainly go to thermal power stations. Coke is derived by destructive distillation of bituminous coal.
  • Crude oil goes mainly to oil refineries and is also used to generate electricity and to make coke.
  • Natural-gas goes to processing plants to remove contaminants such as water, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, and mixed to adjust the heating value.
  • Nuclear reaction heat is used to generate electricity.
  • Biomass is converted to biofuel.

Electricity generators are driven by

Export Import
Persian Gulf States 1167 21
Russia 620 27
Indonesia 301 56
Canada 263 78
Norway 166 8
European Union 539 1451
Japan 18 455
India 72 327
S-Korea 57 291
  • Steam or gas turbines in a thermal plant,
  • or water turbines in a hydropower station,
  • or wind turbines, stand-alone or in a wind farm.

The invention of the PV cell in 1954 started electricity generation by solar panels, connected to a power inverter. Around 2000 mass production of panels made this economical.

Primary and converted energy is much traded among countries. The table lists countries/regions that export most of their energy, followed by countries that must import much for their economies. The quantities are expressed in Mtoe/a and the data are of 2013.[7]

Big transport goes by tanker ship, tank truck, LNG carrier, rail freight transport, pipeline and by electric power transmission.

32% of primary production is used for conversion and transport, and 6% for non-energy products like lubricants, asphalt and petrochemicals. 62% remains for end-users.

Final consumption

This is the world-wide consumption of energy by end-users. This energy consists of fuel (80%) and electricity (20%). The tables lists amounts, expressed in million tonnes of oil equivalent per year (1 Mtoe = 11.63 TWh), and how much of these is renewable energy. Non-energy products are not considered here. The data are of 2013.[7]


  • Fossil fuel: natural gas, fuel derived from petroleum (LPG, gasoline, kerosene, gas/diesel, fuel oil), from coal (anthracite, bituminous coal, coke, lignite, blast furnace gas)
  • Renewable fuel: biofuel and fuel derived from waste, so far as it is traded.
  • District heating.[13]

The amounts are based on lower heating value.


  • See World electricity consumption for details, but note that the table there includes also internal consumption of power plants, about 10% of the totals.

The first table lists world-wide final consumption and the countries/regions which use most (83%). In developing countries fuel consumption per person is low and more renewable. Canada, Venezuela and Brazil generate most electricity with hydropower.

of which renewable Electricity
of which renewable Energy pp
WORLD 6800 17% 1680 21% 1.2
China 1390 16% 387 20% 1.3
United States 1050 7% 325 13% 4.4
European Union 801 10% 238 13% 2.1
Africa 485 62% 51 13% 0.5
India 415 41% 77 16% 0.4
Russia 300 1% 64 21% 2.6
Japan 191 2% 82 12% 2.2
Brazil 170 34% 42 82% 1.1
Indonesia 135 40% 16 11% 0.6
Canada 133 9% 42 59% 5.0
Iran 130 0% 18 5% 1.9
Mexico 91 9% 21 23% 1.0
S-Korea 82 4% 42 2% 2.5
Australia 58 8% 18 9% 3.0
Ukraine 53 2% 12 8% 1.4
Argentina 45 1% 10 41% 1.3
Venezuela 36 2% 8 65% 1.5

The next table shows countries consuming most (83%) in the European Union, and Norway. The last four countries generate electricity largely renewable.

of which renewable Electricity
of which renewable Energy pp
Germany 158 9% 45 25% 2.5
France 106 12% 38 16% 2.2
United Kingdom 96 2% 27 13% 1.9
Italy 90 10% 25 32% 1.9
Spain 56 9% 20 31% 1.6
Poland 51 12% 11 11% 1.6
Netherlands 38 3% 9 14% 2.8
Belgium 26 8% 7 14% 3.0
Sweden 19 32% 11 55% 3.1
Portugal 11 20% 4 60% 1.5
Denmark 11 13% 3 48% 2.3
Norway 9 11% 9 98% 3.6

Energy for energy

Some fuel end electricity is used to construct, maintain and demolish/recycle installations that produce fuel and electricity, such as oil rigs, uranium isotope separators and wind turbines. For these producers to be economic the ratio of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) or energy return on investment (EROI) should be large enough. There is little consensus in the technical literature about methods and results in calculating these ratios, but it is likely that for fuels (fossil and nuclear), hydro power and wind turbines the ratio is at least 10, for solar panels about 7 and for solar collectors (hot water) only 2.[14] In southern European countries solar EROEI exceeds ten[15] but more to the North it is less as it takes a greater part of the life time to regain the invested energy,

Outlook until 2040

Based on examination of the Paris Agreement pledges, covering some 190 countries, the IEA expects[4] that the worldwide energy consumption in 2040 will have increased 30% by industrialising India, Southeast Asia and China. Renewable energy sees the fastest growth, natural gas consumption rises by 50%, oil demand tops by 2040 and coal use will not grow.

With this policy the goal, set in the Paris Agreement, will not nearly be reached according to the IEA. More stringent decarbonisation options examined in the IEA Outlook include the 450 Scenario (450 ppm CO2 in the air being associated with 2 C warming). In this scenario nearly 60% of the power generated in 2040 comes from renewables, almost half of this from wind and solar PV. The power sector is largely decarbonised. Structural changes to the design and operation of the power system are needed to integrate high shares of variable wind and solar power. This requires a major reallocation of cumulative investment capital in the energy sector, estimated at $40 trillion. By 2040 the share going to fossil fuels drops towards one-third.

See also

"Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power" in Mark Jacobson.



  1. Energy expenditures
  2. Energy is used in the economic sense, not in the physical sense where it is conserved
  4. 4.0 4.1 "World Energy Outlook 2016". IEA. 
  5. quad = 1015 Btu = 293 TWh,–U.S. Energy Information Administration International Energy Statistics
  6. IEA Statistics manual, chapter 7
    • Fossil: based on lower heating value.
    • Nuclear: heat produced by nuclear reactions, 3 times the electric energy, based on 33% efficiency of nuclear plants.
    • Renewable:
      • Biomass based on lower heating value.
      • Electric energy produced by hydropower, wind turbines and solar panels.
      • Geothermal energy used in power plants is set at 10 times the electric energy, assuming 10% efficiency.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 IEA Statistics search select Country/Region, Balances, Year.
  8. The International Energy Agency uses the energy unit Mtoe. Corresponding data are presented by the US Energy Information Administration expressed in quads. 1 quad = 1015 BTU = 25.2 Mtoe. The US EIA follows different rules to assess renewable electricity generation. See EIA Glossary, Primary energy production.
  9. 9.0 9.1 IEA Key Renewables Trends
  10. EIA US Overview
  11. Compare World: Balances for 2012 and 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 IEA Statistics search, select Country/Region, Electricity and Heat.
  13. In energy statistics this is not part of fuel but a separate part of final consumption like electricity, see IEA Statistics search, select Country/Region, Electricity and Heat.
  14. Charles Hall, (2008).
  15. Ugo Bardi, http:// (2016).