Energy Excursions

Global Fossil Fuels

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at renewable energy consumption on a global scale, let’s turn our focus towards fossil fuels. Recount from the previous topic page, fossil fuels, such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas, are non-renewable energy sources. This means the timescale needed to replenish these energy resources is much longer than for renewable energy resources. Additionally, the process of converting fossil fuels into power involves burning fossil fuels in a power plant, often producing significant greenhouse gas emissions that are put into the atmosphere. However, even with the environmental ramifications of using fossil fuels, our globe is still heavily reliant on them for energy consumption, and that is expected to continue into the near future. 

Before reviewing the charts below, reflect on this question: Which country in the world gets the highest percentage of its primary energy from oil? What do you think is the answer?

Now, using the chart below, let’s see if your answer was correct. Once you’ve reviewed the chart below, be sure to answer the corresponding question. 

Which country in the world gets the highest percentage of its primary energy from oil, and why might that be the case?

Japan is the highest with 40% of its share of primary energy from oil in 2019. The most-likely reason is the rapid drilling advancements that have occurred in Japan within recent years.

Incorrect. 

Saudi Arabia is the highest with 40% of its share of primary energy from oil in 2019. The most-likely scenario is because it's a ‘local’ product, so transportation and other costs are minimized for this energy source.

Incorrect. 

Saudi Arabia is the highest with 63% of its share of primary energy from oil in 2019. The most-likely scenario is because it's a ‘local’ product, so transportation and other costs are minimized for this energy source.

Correct. 

Now, let’s look at another chart that plots oil production, measured in terawatt-hours, shown below. Once you have reviewed the chart, be sure to answer the corresponding questions. 

Is there a country that has been clearly dominant in oil production over the past 100 years?

United States

Correct.

The United States seems to be clearly dominant over the long period of 100 years, with intermittent periods when Russia and/or Saudi Arabia have surpassed the United States for oil production. Note: The big upswings in production in the United States in the 1970’s and 2000’s were both a result of technical advancements. Many of the significant swings in other countries have been a result of political changes. 

Saudi Arabia

Incorrect. 

Canada

Incorrect. 

In 2019, what country contributed to the lowest oil production, and what was the measure in terawatt-hours? 

Iran, 2,218 terawatt-hours

Incorrect. 

Iran, 1,867 terawatt-hours

Correct. 

China, 2,219 terawatt-hours

Incorrect. 

Now that we’ve analyzed global oil production, let’s review the energy mix for the globe. After you’ve reviewed the chart on your own, make sure to answer the corresponding questions that target recognizable trends from the chart. Do you agree or disagree with these trends? 

Increasing Trends True or False: Gas as a share of primary energy consumption has increased by about 10% globally over the last fifty years. 

True

Correct. 

False

Incorrect. 

Decreasing Trends True or False: Oil peaked at 56% in 1973 and was down to 32% in 2019. 

True

Incorrect. 

False

Correct.

Oil peaked at 52% in 1973 and was down to 36% in 2019. 

Renewable Energy Trends True or False: While renewables have increased to some degree with time, they are still a very small part of primary energy consumption. A notable trend in renewables is the decrease in natural gas starting around 2002. 

True

Incorrect. 

False

Correct.

Renewables are a small part of primary energy consumption. But, a notable trend in renewables is the decrease in nuclear energy starting around 2002, not a decrease in natural gas. Other interpretations show that there is a stable amount of hydropower given new dams are not being built, there is an uptick in wind and solar energy consumption. 

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