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Global Energy Demand and Supply

Global Energy Demand and Supply

Using digitised technologies, leaving things on standby, and often not giving a thought to our energy uses, is pretty common, especially if you're in the UK. That's because here in the UK, we have a reasonably secure energy supply, to meet our high energy demands. This isn't the case around the world though, and it's important to remember that rates of demand, supply, and consumption vary in different countries and for different energy sources. But why is the demand for energy and its supply unequal? What are the factors that affect this? Let's take a look!

Global energy demand and supply meaning

Around the world, energy is used for just about everything. Energy is supplied by both Non-Renewable Energy Sources (fossil fuels, nuclear power) and Renewable-Energy Sources (wind, solar, tidal, geothermal.)

When people want or need to consume energy resources, this is energy demand. Energy supply is the energy that is provided to meet these demands. Our global population is rising, which means energy demand is also going to increase. This will result in the need to supply more energy.

Don't forget to read the explanations on Non-Renewable Energy Sources and Renewable Energy Sources, as they will give you more context for this one!

Energy is demanded, supplied, and consumed all over the world, however, it is vastly unequal. There are areas of energy surplus, and energy deficit. This means that some countries are energy secure, whilst others suffer from the Impacts of Energy Insecurity.

Energy surplus occurs when there is more energy being supplied than is being demanded. A deficit occurs when there is not enough supply to meet demands.

Energy security is when people have access to good sources and reliable energy. Energy insecurity occurs when this access is poor and unreliable.

Why are energy demand and consumption rising?

Energy demand is rising. It is predicted that by 2040, the energy supply will need to increase to meet the demands of another China and India combined (that's an additional 2.7 billion people!) That is a lot of people and a lot of energy. But what are the reasons for this increase in demand and consumption?

Wealth

Around the world, people are becoming wealthier. This means that the standard of living increases, as more people have access to wealth and goods. Energy demand will rise when people begin to be able to afford more cars or home appliances. Energy demand is rising in Newly Emerging Economies, such as India and China, as their economies start to boom.

The amount of wealth or goods and levels of leisure and comfort can describe the standard of living.

Newly Emerging Economies are countries with rapidly expanding economies.

Population increase

The population of the world is predicted to hit 8 billion by November 2022, and with further population rise, demand for energy is only going to increase further. If there are more people, more energy supplies will be needed to make sure everyone is energy secure.

Using more sustainable energy supplies will become ever more important to make sure current and future demands are met. Take a look at our Sustainable Energy Use explanation for more on this.

Technology

Technology is increasing around the world. As we become an even more digitised society, people demand technological products, which require energy to function.

There is also an increase in technologies to help extract more energy, such as fracking. Fracking is when water, chemicals, and sand, are pressure pumped into shale rocks, causing them to break and release natural gas or oil to be used as an energy source.

Take a look at the Factors Affecting Energy Supply and Demand explanation for more on fracking.

Energy consumption by country

The highest energy consumption is found in most of the developed countries around the world, such as the United States, and the majority of Europe. Although energy use is relatively high around the world, the map below shows that some places have little to no access to energy sources. This is predominantly found in developing countries. Look at central Africa for example; the majority of the continent has little to no energy use at all.

One of the clear exceptions is that energy use is high in some areas of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Oman; this is because oil is produced here, which is exported around the world. We'll talk more about this later.

Global Energy Consumption and Supply Figure 1 Energy Consumption Map StudySmarterFig. 1 Global energy consumption 2019

Generally, developed nations are consuming more energy due to an average higher standard of living. However, in some developed nations, such as the UK, energy demand is actually decreasing, due to reduced industrial production, more efficient technologies, and an increase in awareness about saving energy. Take a look at our UK Energy Provision explanation for more.

Certain countries have the resources available to exploit, and therefore have higher energy consumption. For example, countries in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, or countries like the US or Russia have vast amounts of oil to use, export and supply to countries all over the world. Other countries may rely on imports for energy, meaning that they are not self-sufficient in their energy resources, such as the UK. As we have already discussed, lower-income or developing countries may have less access to secure energy sources. However, we are seeing an increase in the energy use of developing countries, as they begin to industrialise and become more developed.

Industrialisation is the process of moving from a more traditional and manual economy to a manufacturing economy.

Global energy consumption by source

Fossil fuels are still the main source of energy consumption globally. This is a problem, not only because fossil fuel production has a negative impact on the environment, but also because these resources are eventually going to run out. As you can see, the majority of our energy comes from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas).

Global Energy Consumption and Supply Figure 2 Global Energy Consumption StudySmarterFig. 2 Global primary energy consumption

The use of renewable energy sources is beginning to increase, especially in more developed countries. Norway ranks highest in the world for its renewable energy resource use! Increased education and awareness of energy consumption, as well as increasing wealth, means that people are beginning to work towards reducing their carbon footprints.

The carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide produced from certain activities.

Some areas of the world are also more suited to certain renewable energy sources. For example, the UK would be able to harness massive amounts of tidal power, as they are an island with a surrounding coastline (tidal power only produces a small amount of energy currently for the UK.) Geothermal energy can be harnessed in areas where there is tectonic activity. Some countries use an 'energy mix', meaning a combination of renewable and non-renewable energy resources are used, for example, in the UK.

As low-income countries start to develop further, industrialise, and increase their energy use, finding more sustainable methods for these countries will be even more important, to protect the environment and ensure energy security for the future.

Factors affecting energy supply and demand

There are many factors that could affect the supply and demand of energy. Let's briefly take a look at these factors:

  • Physical e.g., geology, climate, location
  • Technology e.g., fracking, renewable and sustainable energy sources
  • Politics e.g., war and conflict, corruption, government policy

Make sure you check out the Factors Affecting Energy Supply and Demand explanation for more in-depth information and case studies.

Global energy demand and supply examples

So, we've already spoken about where demand and supply may differ. Let's take a look at some examples.

The UK's energy mix

As we have already mentioned, the UK's energy demand is actually going down- because of better awareness and efficiency. Although the UK does produce energy, such as gas, coal, nuclear, and renewable energy, the UK is not self-sufficient in energy supplies, meaning it imports a vast amount of the energy that is consumed in the country. As a way to increase supplies within the UK, the UK is beginning to source energy from fracking and renewable energy resources, such as wind power, solar power, hydroelectric power, and biomass.

Make sure you read the UK Energy Provision explanation, so you can use a really detailed case study in your exam!

The rise of China

China, located in East Asia, is known as a Newly Emerging Economy, and a BRICS country because of the country's growth.

The BRICS countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It is an acronym which describes how certain countries' economies are growing, or 'emerging'.

Global Energy Consumption and Supply Figure 3 China StudySmarterLocation of China on the continent of Asia, map data: © 2022 Google Earth

China consumes a large amount of energy, and is heavily reliant on fossil fuels; the country consumes the most amount of energy globally, even more than the United States. China relies on imports for its energy sources, meaning the country is not self-sufficient.

China is also not energy secure due to its reliance on the use of coal for energy, which is particularly bad for the environment. Although the use of fossil fuels has helped with China's development, as they were cheap and helped the country to industrialise, they are now planning ahead for the future; China intends to be carbon-neutral by 2060. The country is set to move towards producing newer forms of energy, to then supply to the rest of the world.

Global Energy Demand and Supply - Key takeaways

  • Global energy demand and supply are unequal across the world, leaving some areas with a surplus, and others in deficit.

  • Generally, there is higher energy consumption in more developed countries and lower consumption in developing countries.

  • Energy demand and consumption are increasing because of an increase in wealth, population, and technology.

  • Energy consumption differs by country, due to differences in demand, exploitation availability, or imports.

  • Energy consumption also differs by source, with some countries having the ability to harness renewable energy resources, whilst others continue to exploit fossil fuels.

  • The factors affecting energy supply and demand are physical, technological, and political.

  • The UK and China offer great examples of differences in global energy supply and demand.


References

  1. Fig. 1 Global energy consumption 2019, Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Energy_use_per_person_2019_-_OWID.svg, Our World in Data https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/per-capita-energy-use, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode
  2. Fig. 2 Global primary energy consumption, Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Global_primary_energy_consumption,_OWID.svg, Our World in Data https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/global-primary-energy?country=~OWID_WRL, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/legalcode

Frequently Asked Questions about Global Energy Demand and Supply

Energy demand is when people want or need energy sources. Supply is the provision of this energy. 


Energy consumption and supply vary around the world. 


Energy demand varies because of differences in wealth, population size, access to technology, and general development levels. 


Energy consumption is rising because of increased wealth across the world, the rising population, and increasing technologies.


These countries may use less energy because of lower levels of development and industrialisation.

Final Global Energy Demand and Supply Quiz

Question

What is the difference between energy demand and supply?

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Answer

Demand is when people want or need to consume energy. Supply is the provision of this energy.


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Question

True or false: energy demand, supply, and consumption are unequal globally.

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Answer

True

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Question

What is energy surplus?

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Answer

When there is more energy supply than there is demand.


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Question

By 2040, how many people are we predicted to have to supply energy for?

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Answer

The population of China and India (over 2.7 billion people). 

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Question

Why are energy demand and consumption rising?

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Answer

Increase in wealth, population, and technology.


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Question

What are Newly Emerging Economies?


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Answer

Countries with rapidly expanding economies.

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Question

Where is energy consumption high?


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Answer

In developed countries.

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Question

Where are some examples of oil production?

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Answer

Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., and Oman.

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Question

True or false: demand for energy in the UK is increasing rapidly.


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Answer

False

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Question

True or false: energy is increasing in developing countries as they develop further and industrialise.


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Answer

True

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Question

Which source of energy is consumed most in the world?


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Answer

Fossil fuels 

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Question

Where has the highest renewable energy use?


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Answer

Norway

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Question

What type of energy could the UK harness more of?


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Answer

Tidal power

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Question

What are some of the factors affecting energy supply and demand?

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Answer

  • Physical (geology, climate, and location).
  • Technology (fracking, renewable energy, sustainable energy).
  • Politics (war, corruption, government policy).

Show question

Question

Why is China not energy secure?

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Answer

Heavy reliance on coal.

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