Energy is one of the most important of all the worlds resources. We need energy for light, to cook food and to keep us warm. It powers industrial machinery and transport. Fortunately, the natural environment provides us with a wide range of energy resources. A distinction is made between primary energy and secondary. Primary energy is fuels that provide energy without undergoing any conversion process, for example coal, natural gas and fuel wood. Secondary energy includes electricity and petrol, which are made from the processing of primary fuels. In today’s world, electricity is undoubtable the leading source of energy.
There is another important distinction made in the world of energy. Energy sources such as fuels (coal, oil and gas) are classed as non-renewable. Once used up, they cannot be replaced easily. Relatively new energy sources such as solar, wind and tidal power are described as renewable. For this reason they are sustainable, and are likely to play an increasingly important role in the future.
The demand for energy across the world is constantly rising. This increased demand is caused in part by the increase in population, and by economic development. The amount of energy a country uses is widely used to indicate or measure the level of development. As a country develops, energy-consuming activities, such as manufacturing, provision of services and transport increase in scale and importance. This rising demand for energy results in a country generating more of its own energy from its different sources or relying on other countries with imports of fuels.
The image above shows the global distribution of energy consumption as well as energy demand. Europe and North America use 70 % of the world energy, although this is only 20% of the worlds population. It is because these areas experienced large-scale economic development, there original energy sources were fossil fuels – first coal and the oil and gas. Today however, these resources run low or empty so the recourse are imported from other countries to meet the rising demand.
Notice in the image above that the demand for energy over much of South America, Africa and South-east Asia is very low. This reflects that these areas are less economically developed than Europe and North America.
The image above shows that three-quarters of the worlds production of energy comes from three main sources: oil, natural gas and coal – all non-renewable energy. The image below shows the major producers of energy: USA, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and parts of the Middle East. These areas are rich with one or more of these main reserves of energy sources.
By comparing the above image with the image twice above, it is clear to see that the world’s major consumers of energy are also the major producers i.e. the countries with less energy demand and consumption have less energy production but still the resources to have a higher energy production.
There are an increasing number of countries in the world facing what is referred to as an energy gap (the difference between a country’s rising demand for energy and its ability to produce that energy from its own resources. The gap is being widened by the deliberate phasing out of fossil fuels. The resulting los of energy is greater than the amount of energy being generated for other renewable sources.
It is uncertain that the world has an energy crisis, it certainly has plenty of reserves of coal, oil and natural gas. However these are non-renewable and are being questioned because of there carbon emissions and the link that has to global warming. If the world does have an energy problem today, it would be the growing mismatch between the distribution of energy consumption and Production. This Mismatch is creating not only national energy gaps, but also countries with energy surpluses. These surpluses give those countries huge geopolitical and economic power. They have the ability to hold other countries to ransom and many would question how that financial power is being used by some countries.