Powering the World

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    Guide Author

    James Longley

    Managing Director

    min read
    Last Updated May 17, 2022
    powering the world

    There are now more forms of energy than ever before, from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, which have kept society going for centuries, to renewable energy sources such as biofuels, wind, and solar energy.

    Today’s energy landscape is increasingly diverse, but how much of these different fuel sources do different countries around the world rely on?

    countries that use the highest fossil fuels

    The countries that use the most fossil fuels

    Coal – South Africa (73% of total supply)

    Starting off with fossil fuels, the most commonly used fuel in the world is still coal, and the country on our list which relies the most heavily on it is South Africa, as it makes up 73% of the nation’s total energy supply. This is largely because coal is one of the most affordable fuel sources, but also due to a lack of real alternatives in the country too. South Africa is also one of the world’s biggest exporters of coal too.

    Oil – Singapore (73% of total supply)

    Like South Africa, Singapore also relies on one fossil fuel for 73% of its energy supply, but this time, it’s oil. Dubbed as the “undisputed oil hub in Asia”, Singapore produces 27,621 ktoe (kilotonnes of oil equivalent) and is home to major oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, due to its ideal trading location and “safe environment”.

    Natural gas – Netherlands (45% of total supply)

    45% of the energy supply of the Netherlands comes from natural gas, with 50% of it coming from the Groningen gas field, the largest gas field in Europe, with much of the remaining half being sourced from offshore gas fields in the North Sea. However, the Dutch government has committed to stop regular production from the Groningen field by 2022.

    countries with the highest share of renewable energy

    The countries that use the most renewable energy

    Hydro – Norway (45% of total supply)

    Norway has the biggest share of hydro energy by some distance, making up 45% of its total energy supply (compared to Switzerland in second with 13%). The country is known for being experts in the field of hydroelectricity, with calls for it to be powered principally by hydro starting as early as 1892! Part of the reason Norway relies so heavily on hydropower is due to its geography, with many steep valleys and rivers, as well as increased rainfall due to climate change.

    Biofuels and waste – Brazil (32.1% of total supply)

    Now looking at the more sustainable sources of energy, it was Brazil that had the biggest share of biofuels and waste energy, with 32.1% (just 0.1% more than Finland). Brazil is the second-largest producer of ethanol fuel and is an industry leader, with its sugarcane-based ethanol being touted as the most successful alternative fuel to date, based on advanced agri-industrial technology.

    Wind, solar, etc. – New Zealand (25% of total supply)

    Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar make up a quarter of New Zealand’s energy supply and have been on the increase in recent years. Situated in the path of the ‘Roaring Forties’, a set of strong and constant westerly winds, the nation is perfectly positioned for wind power and enjoys plenty of sunshine for solar energy too, as well as having an increasing market for solar hot water heating systems too.

    THe country that uses the highest share of nuclear energy

    Nuclear – France (42% of total supply)

    France is one of the world leaders when it comes to nuclear energy, making up 42% of its energy supply, with 56 operational nuclear reactors producing 103,966 ktoe, which is second only to the USA.

    countries that produce the most energy

    1.China – 3.2 million ktoe

    China is by far the biggest energy-producing country on our list, with 3.2 million kilotonnes of oil equivalent, the overwhelming majority of which (88%) comes from fossil fuels.

    While technically the largest supplier of renewable energy in the world (with 300,924 ktoe), this still makes up just 9% of the nation’s total supply.

    2.United States – 2.2 million ktoe

    In second place with 2.2 million ktoe is the USA, and like China, is largely reliant on fossil fuels (82%), predominantly oil and natural gas.

    10% of the energy supply in the US came from nuclear energy, while 8% came from renewable sources.

    3.India – 919,771 ktoe

    India has a rapidly growing economy and population, and takes third place with an annual energy supply of 919,771 ktoe, with a slightly more diverse mix than China and the US.

    Here, fossil fuels make up just over three-quarters of the supply, with renewable sources accounting for a quarter, but just 1% from nuclear energy.

    How much energy does it take to power the worlds biggest countries

    Figures sourced from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and show the total energy supply by source for each of the IEA’s member and association countries for the most recent year available (2019 in the majority of cases).

    Note that fossil fuels refers to coal, oil and natural gas, while renewable sources refers to biofuels and waste, wind, solar etc. and hydro.

    Supply is measured in ktoe (kilotonnes of oil equivalent).

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