World Energy Consumption

Power Efficiency Guide

Ultimate Guide to Power Efficiency

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Before considering each energy source in detail it is useful to compare their contributions to world energy consumption. This serves to keep their relative importance in perspective. Figures 1.3 and 1.4 and Table 1.1 provide some figures for past consumption and estimates for the future. The four main producers are coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear, with smaller contributions from other sources. Hydro is the next in importance but as it is limited by the number of suitable rivers its contribution remains almost constant and its relative contribution decreases. The contribution of the remaining sources is rather small. The 'traditional' renewable energy sources such as wood, straw and dung (biomass) amounted to 0.9 GTOE in 1990. Modern biomass is growing special crops such as willow for subsequent burning.

World energy consumption increased by 4.3% in 2004, with some countries increasing faster than others. Thus Chinese consumption increased by 15% in one year (Nuclear Issues, June 2005). Consumption is expected to double by 2050. China imported about 40% of its oil consumption of 250M tonnes and this is expected to increase to 60%

1985 1990 2000

Figure 1.3. Energy Consumption Outlook in the Western World (GtOE) (World Energy Needs and Resources).

1985 1990 2000

Figure 1.3. Energy Consumption Outlook in the Western World (GtOE) (World Energy Needs and Resources).

Figure 1.4. Shares of primary energy sources in the global energy balance (World Energy Needs Resources).
Table 1.1. Global Primary Energy Consumption (in million tons of oil equivalent)

Energy Source

1860

1900

1950

2000

Wood etc

270

330

470

~1000

Coal

100

470

1300

2220

Oil

20

470

3400

Natural gas

170

2020

Hydro-electric

10

120

230

Nuclear

630

Other renewables

~200

Total

370

830

2530

~9700

Sources: For 1860, 1900 and 1950: Nuclear Energy in Industry (Crowther 1957); figures converted from coal equivalent to oil-equivalent energy by dividing by 1.5. For 2000: Statistical Review of World Energy (1999 BP Amoco), trended up to 2000; except wood etc., from Rural Energy and Development (1996 World Bank). For primary energy, BP assumes that one tonne of oil produces 4000 kWh in a modern power station.

Sources: For 1860, 1900 and 1950: Nuclear Energy in Industry (Crowther 1957); figures converted from coal equivalent to oil-equivalent energy by dividing by 1.5. For 2000: Statistical Review of World Energy (1999 BP Amoco), trended up to 2000; except wood etc., from Rural Energy and Development (1996 World Bank). For primary energy, BP assumes that one tonne of oil produces 4000 kWh in a modern power station.

by 2020 (Nuclear Issues, June 2005). An additional 2 million cars were sold in 2003, an increase of 80% over 2002.

Comparison of Figures 1.3 and 1.4 with Table 1.1 show general agreement for past consumption, but substantial differences for the future. Thus for example, in Figure 1.3 nuclear in 2000 is estimated in 1980 to be 1.8, while the estimate in Table 1.1 from data obtained in 1999 is only 0.63. This sharp reduction in the nuclear estimate is due to the reaction against nuclear power that is discussed in Section 8.5. The projections in Figure 1.2 for the years up to 2030 are even less reliable. For example, the fast breeder reactors (FBR) are projected to rise quite sharply after 2000 and the produce more than the light water reactors (LBR) by 2030. In fact, fast breeder reactors have not been deployed at all, for the reasons discussed in Section 4.7

These uncertainties are characteristic of all estimates of future energy production and demand. Some variability is to be expected due to different availabilities and costs of raw materials, different legal requirements concerning the siting, building and running of power stations and in addition large variations may occur due to political pressures and unexpected events. It is also not unknown for figures to be carefully selected according to different criteria in order to produce a result that is already desired on political grounds. It is therefore important to collect statistics from various sources whenever possible and analyse them in detail before reaching a final estimate.

The rates of energy consumption vary from one country to another, depending on the wealth of the country, its Government and its natural resources. The energy use in Britain, Switzerland, India and the USA is given by Ramage (1997).

It is instructive to compare these figures with those for the sources of electricity in France, one of the countries with the highest nuclear component. In 2006 the production was 549 TWh, consisting of 429 (78%) nuclear; 61 (11%) hydro; 57 thermal (10%) and 2.2 Wind (0.4%) (Nuclear Issues 30, March 2008).

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