What is meant by energy consumption?

The term energy consumption signifies the consumption of electricity. Energy consumption as electricity is a primary demand for households, factories, industries, complexes, and commercial places. According to a report, the total U.S. energy consumption for 2018 was 101 BTU (British Thermal Units). It accounted for 17% of the total energy consumption of the world. The total energy demand for the U.S. as oil equivalent was estimated to be about 6804 kg of oil equivalent.

Countries in terms of energy consumption

In terms of energy consumption, the U.S. tops the list, followed by Russia and China. During the onset of the pandemic of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the previous year, that is, in the year 2020, the world has witnessed an exponential drop in the power consumption economy that includes a major fall in CO2 emissions as a large number of workers stayed indoors and parts of power plants stayed offline. But as the world has entered its second year of the pandemic with kickstart in businesses, the global energy consumption has shot up with a restart in CO2 emissions from these power plants.

As per the statistical analysis of the energy consumption, especially in the electricity sector, 20,000 TWh of power comes from burning coal and 60,000 TWh remains due to oil consumption from fossil fuels. The world consumes a lot of energy from renewable sources such as solar, tidal, wind, hydropower, and so on as these energy sources account for 120,000 TWh to 160,000 TWh of the global energy consumption. These figures indicate that the majority of power plants have already started utilizing renewable sources as their primary energy consumption source. Energy use from burning fossil fuels and coal was the only primary energy consumption source in earlier days.

Bar chart showing total world energy consumption.
CC BY-SA 4.0 | Image credits: https://en.wikipedia.org | Efbrazil

Energy consumption from non-renewable sources

The term non-renewable sources of energy indicate those energy sources which are natural but available in limited quantity. Nature cannot easily replenish those energy sources, once being used in large quantities, hence it will lead to extinction shortly soon. The majority of the total non-renewable sources are found beneath the earth's surface, which needs to be extracted and refined before they can be used for consumption. Some of the major examples in this category are fossil fuels, natural gas, and coal.

Energy consumption through coal

Coal is an energy resource that is found beneath the earth's surface stacked between the sedimentary rocks. It is extracted by the manual digging process of setting up the coalfields. It generally appears black due to its high carbon content and liberates higher levels of CO2, which is the primary greenhouse gas. Anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite are different varieties of coal. The percentages of carbon content in them vary.

Coal is the third-largest energy source for electricity generation in the U.S. as per reports of the year 2020, which was about 19% of the total energy use globally. The coal-fired power plants majorly use steam turbines that require pressurized steam as input from the boilers. The heat energy released from coal-burning energizes the boilers. Besides the U.S., some parts of the world still use coal as their primary power source. The world accounts for 40% of electricity generation from burning coal.

Energy consumption through natural gas

Natural gas is another power source that falls under the category of non-renewable energy source. Natural gas generally occurs inside the voids and pockets between the sedimentary rocks. They have formed millions of years ago due to the decaying of plants and animals buried underground. Natural gas tops the list in terms of energy use in the U.S. Reports say that in 2020, the U.S. consumed about 30.5 Tcf (Trillion cubic feet) of natural gas. It was approximately about 32 BTU of energy consumption for electricity generation or 7.43 cubic feet kilowatt-hours.
These figures have a steeper rise due to the ever-increasing growth rate of population and hence electricity demand. In 2012, the natural gas fuel demand was just about 25.3 Tcf in the U.S.

Energy consumption from renewable sources

With the ever-increasing demand for the energy supply and with growing concerns regarding environmental damage, the world is eventually shifting towards a clear fuel source for energy production. These power sources account for zero carbon emissions, hence, do not contribute towards greenhouse gas productions. These fuel sources are present in ample amounts in nature and are non-exhausting as long as the solar system exists. Unlike fossil fuels, these sources are found both beneath the earth's surface and above the earth's surface and do not have any traces of carbon content. Some of the examples of this category are solar power, hydropower, geothermal power, tidal energy, wind energy, and so on.

In the year 2020, the U.S made a jump from the previous year in terms of renewable energy consumption, which was 11.59 quadrillion BTU. It was 12% of the total U.S energy consumption. 29% of the energy supply globally comes from renewable energy sources, which was 27% in the year 2019.

The energy from hydropower accounts for the majority of the total energy production, generating about 1295 gigawatts, that is, 54% of the global energy requirement.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

OPEC is an intergovernmental organization, founded in Bagdad in 1960. It lists 13 countries that account for 44% of the global oil exploration and production with 81.5% of oil reserves. The prime members of OPEC are Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
The current OPEC countries are Algeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. The rest of the countries are non-OPEC countries.

Context and Applications

This topic is taught in many undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses like:

  • Bachelors of Technology in Mechanical engineering
  • Masters in Science in Power technology
  • Masters in Business Administration
  • Masters in Arts in Geography
  • Masters in Science in Renewable energy

Practice Problems

Q 1. What is the end-use of burning non-renewable energy sources?

a. Generation of CO2

b. Increasing percentage of greenhouse gas

c. More carbon emission

d. All of these

Answer: Option d

Explanation: The end use of burning non-renewable energy sources leads to the liberation of carbon and CO2 in the atmosphere, which ultimately increases the percentage of greenhouse gas.

Q 2. What is the full form of BTU?

a. Britain temperature units

b. British thermal unit

c. British thermal utility

d. Boiler temperature unit

Answer: Option b

Explanation: The full form of BTU is British Thermal Units.

Q 3. What is the full form for OPEC?

a. Organization of power exporting countries

b. Organization of the petroleum exporting councils

c. Organization of petroleum exporting countries

d. Organization of petroleum exporting countries

Answer: Option c

Explanation: The full form of OPEC is Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Q 4. How many countries are listed under OPEC?

a. 13

b. 12

c. 10

d. 15

Answer: Option a

Explanation: OPEC lists 13 countries that account for 44% of oil exploration and production.

Q 5. What was the U.S. energy use in the year 2020?

a. 101 btu

b. 100 btu

c. 50 btu

d. between 50 btu and 101 btu

Answer: Option a

Explanation: The U.S. energy consumption for the year 2020 was about 101 btu.

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