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6.2 Global Energy Consumption

3 min readjanuary 7, 2023

Karla Jauregui Sandoval

Karla Jauregui Sandoval


AP Environmental Science ♻️

252 resources
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Use of Energy

Like other resources, energy is dispersed and used differently per country and per individual. Since some energy use is non-renewable and other uses of it can be harmful to the environment if improperly regulated, questions arise:
  • Who uses the most energy? 
  • What type of energy source is most common? 
  • How is our energy being used? 
Energy is not equally distributed amongst developing and developed nations. As countries develop, their total energy consumption increases. As a country develops, each individual person needs more resources at a higher rate and one of those is energy. The carbon footprint for individuals in developed countries is higher than the average for individuals in developing countries. 
For reference, the average American citizen has a carbon footprint of 19.8 tonnes 1 while an average Chinese citizen has an average of 4.6 tonnes of carbon emissions. A tonne is a metric unit used to measure mass. A tonne is equal to 1,000 kg.
According to the Global Energy Statistical Yearbook, energy consumption grew by 2.3% due to the demand for electricity and gas in China. Because there is a higher demand for coal, global gas emissions have increased through the recent years. 

Diagram Courtesy of US Energy Information Administration

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This diagram is showing the global trend for energy consumption. 
China and the United States account for the increase in natural gas consumption, the abundance of supply, cheap prices and a higher energy demand allowed the US to be a top producer for natural gas. 

Developing Nations

Developing nations' energy commonly comes from biomass, since access to other commercial energy sources is few and far between. Commercial energy is energy that consumers need to pay for, such as natural gas, coal, and petroleum.  
Since biomass is easy to access and costs to use it are low, biomass energy is used to keep up demand. Biomass energy is gathered in local areas because it is more widely available. Wood or dung is used to create energy.  Some countries that use biomass as energy include Brazil, remote locations in Africa, India and Kenya. 

Global Energy Consumption 

Trend: As the world becomes more industrialized, energy demand increases 

Diagram Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2Fapes6-K2y7PAyaON0N.JPG?alt=media&token=76176c6d-df58-4af2-92f3-1dba4af662db
Fossil fuels is the number one producer of electricity in the world because of its affordability, abundance and accessibility. 
Hydropower comes second because of the large dams such as the Three Gorges Dams. Although there has been removal of dams, there has been a focus of creating innovative tidal technology to capture energy from the movement of waves. 
Nuclear Power accounts for 10.7% of energy generation because there are top industrialized countries that have the money and resources to generate electricity. The United States, France and China are some of the largest nuclear power producers. However, these resources are nonrenewable and could pose a problem for future generations given that usage is not moderated or somewhat modified.
https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2Fapes6-SwLlsBAVUx50.JPG?alt=media&token=0b04e76f-7a27-4c57-9065-8a44d54c4038
This graph shows the US energy consumption by sector in 2018. 
The industrial sector accounts for the largest percentage of energy consumption because it takes more electricity to power factories. The sources of energy that are used for this sector are natural gas, petroleum, renewable sources, and coal. 
The transportation sector uses petroleum(gasoline) as the main source for energy. There has been a rise in the usage of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel which are more environmentally friendly. Transportation such as cars and planes also use a lot of energy, and residential life like water supplies and heating/AC can increase one's carbon footprint. 🎥 Watch: Environmental Science
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