Energy Consumption of The World: The Differences in Consumption Between Developing and Developed Nations

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  • 0:07 Developed and…
  • 1:43 Energy Consumption
  • 3:50 Energy Sources
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Energy consumption is greater in developed nations than in developing nations. However, as the economy of a developing nation improves, the global energy consumption increases. Learn more about the differences in energy consumption around the world.

Developed and Developing Countries

Back in the year 1800, there were about one billion people living on our planet. One hundred years later, in the year 1900, the world population grew a modest amount to about 1.6 billion people. But, over the next 100 years, the world's population exploded, and today, we have nearly seven billion people walking around planet Earth. That's a lot of people! And, you might think that the rapid growing population is the reason we see such a rise in the energy consumption around the world, but this is only half-right.

What really makes a difference in the world's energy consumption is how much energy each person consumes. When we consider this fact, we see that there is a big difference between the energy consumption of people living in developed nations as compared to those living in developing countries.

So, what do we mean by a developed country? A developed country is a term used to describe an industrialized country with a highly developed economy. Examples of developed countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. Each of these countries are in contrast to a developing country, which can be defined as a non-industrialized, poor country that is seeking to develop its resources. There are many developing countries, with some of the more notable being China and India.

Energy Consumption

Energy consumption is highest among developed countries. In fact, Americans make up less than 5% of the world's population and yet consume as much as 25% of its energy. Because of America's extravagant use of energy, the United States often gets singled out in discussions on global energy consumption. Some might say the U.S. needs to go on an 'energy diet.'

When we use the term 'energy consumption,' we mean consumption of the sources of energy that generate power, including fossil fuels and renewable energy. The main fossil fuels are oil, coal and natural gas. The main renewable energy sources include wind, solar, hydroelectric power and biofuels. Currently, the world's energy consumption is about 15 terawatts of power. So, you might be wondering, what is a terawatt?

Well, the term 'tera' refers to one trillion, so a terawatt is a unit of measuring electrical power that is equal to one trillion watts. If we think of a 'watt' as a unit of power used in a common household object, such as a 100-watt light bulb, then we see that a terawatt could power about 10 billion 100-watt light bulbs at the same time. In fact, we use so much energy that the light produced by developed countries can be seen from space.

If we lump all of the developing countries together, we see that combined they only use about 30 percent of the planet's energy. However, this may be changing as the economies of some of the developing countries grow. For example, China tops the list of developing countries that are consuming more energy each year. China has nearly doubled its energy usage within the past 15 years and has seen auto sales climb. Because economic growth leads to increased energy use and because cars consume fossil fuels, prosperity in developing countries (like China), leads to more global energy consumption.

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