Posted by: bluesyemre | July 23, 2022

#Energy use per person around the world (#infographic)

Mapping Global Energy Consumption Per Capita

In the four decades since 1980, global energy consumption doubled from 77 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) to nearly 155 trillion kWh.

But despite soaring energy demand from emerging economies, energy consumption per person only grew by around 14%.

So, which countries consume the most energy per capita today?

The above infographic maps global per capita energy consumption in 2020 using data from Our World in Data. Energy consumption includes electricity, transport, and heating.

The Energy Consumption Leaderboard

The top 10 countries by energy consumption per capita are relatively wealthy and heavily industrialized.

CountryYear of dataEnergy consumption per capita (kWh)
Trinidad and Tobago2020123,800
United Arab Emirates2020117,686

Iceland tops the list and is also the leading generator of electricity per capita. Thanks to the country’s abundance of geothermal resources, geothermal and hydropower plants account for more than 99% of Iceland’s electricity generation.

Many of the top 10 countries are large energy producers or industry-heavy economies. For example, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Kuwait, Norway, and Qatar are among the world’s 15 largest oil-producing countries. Similarly, Trinidad and Tobago is the largest oil and gas producer in the Caribbean and is one of the largest exporters of ammonia globally.

The presence of energy-intensive industries like oil and gas extraction is likely a major factor influencing total and per-person energy use in these countries.

Why is Tiny Iceland So Big on Energy Use?

Why does Iceland use so much energy per person?

Let’s take a look at Iceland’s colossal industrial energy consumption, to see where energy goes:

Sector / Industry2019 energy consumption* (thousand kWh)% of total
Aluminum smelters12,490,26665.9%
Data centers990,0975.2%
Ferroalloy industry897,8464.7%
Aluminum foil industry473,7232.5%
Other industries1,038,4105.5%

*Energy consumption excludes losses.
Source: Orkustofnunn – National Energy Authority of Iceland

Iceland’s three Aluminum smelters—Alcoa, Rio Tinto Alcan, and Century Aluminum—consume more energy than all other sectors combined, and account for 30% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. Iceland isn’t particularly rich in bauxite (the raw material used to make aluminum), but cheap and clean electricity are big incentives for aluminum smelters to set up operations on the island.

For similar reasons, Iceland is also a popular destination for data centers and bitcoin mining. The year-round cool climate lowers cooling costs for thousands of computers running around the clock, and clean grid electricity minimizes their carbon footprint.

Overall, it’s not surprising that the residential sector is among the smaller consumers of energy, despite the importance of home heating in a cool climate. Iceland’s industries, especially aluminum smelting, make up the bulk of its energy use, pushing the overall per-person use above all other countries.

The Bottom 10 Countries

Countries at the bottom end of the list are among the world’s least-developed economies, with relatively lower GDP per capita numbers.

Country2019 Energy consumption per capita (kWh)GDP per capita (2020, current US$)
Sierra Leone528$509.4
Democratic Republic of Congo403$544.0
Central African Republic328$492.8

These countries consumed significantly less energy per capita compared to the global average of 19,836 kWh. In a stark contrast to the countries topping the list, their per capita GDPs are all lower than $1,000.

As economies develop, villages get electrified, megacities emerge, and industries grow, leading to higher overall energy consumption. On a global scale, if economic growth continues, energy consumption per capita is likely to continue its steady increase.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: