5 Most Used Energy Sources in the World Today

August 29, 2019 • Shannon Flynn

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The demand for renewables is expected to affect energy usage around the world. As investors anticipate this switch, and the alternative energy market grows, it’s helpful to know what the most-used energy sources are today. Read on to find out what these are and how the energy consumption landscape is changing as a result.

It’s no secret that the world’s finite resources are running out. Yet fossil fuels still account for 80% of the world’s energy consumption, making up 75% of greenhouse gases.

They create emissions that pollute the Earth and perpetuate global warming. Experts believe it’s more necessary than ever to transition to renewable technology.

To
understand the future of long-term sustainability, take a look at the five
most-used energy sources in the world.

1. Oil

Oil,
which accounts for 38% of global
energy consumption
, is one of the most-used energy sources in the world. It’s guzzled
every day as transportation fuel, oil for heating, electricity generation and
more. While the demand for oil has remained high for decades, many decree it is
on the way out, soon to be replaced by sustainable alternatives.

Several
municipalities across the globe, including New York City, have unveiled plans to go
carbon neutral
,
with changes like swapping out oil-reliant vehicles for electric. Smart
investors, anticipating the wide-scale switch to renewables, have already
stepped away from the fossil fuel industry.

2. Coal

Coal
is the second most-used energy source in the world, accounting for 28% of all
consumption. The industry’s growth — an average of 2.9% each year — is mainly
due to China’s rapid industrialization, leading to high demand. In recent
years, however, China has been replacing coal with more sustainable fuels, including
hydroelectric power.

Many
countries and businesses are willing to phase out coal in favor of better
alternatives. China, for example, recently stopped construction on 151 coal
power plants. As a result, they were able to create a $15 billion fund for
those laid off due to the industry’s overcapacity.

3. Gas

Gas
accounts for 22% of the world’s energy consumption, which should come as no
surprise, as many of us rely on gas to fill our tanks and get to work. Gas is a
finite resource that, once gone, can’t be replaced. Many are seeking
sustainable alternatives to prepare for a time when renewables are a
requirement, not an option.

Consumers
now demand gas-free
variations to standard goods
, including vehicles. Manufacturers have heard the
message, and are adding a wide variety of electric cars to the market. Some
transportation-heavy businesses, like IKEA, have also pledged to move away from
gas-powered cars and trucks.

4. Hydroelectricity

Hydroelectricity,
which makes up 6% of all energy consumption, is the most-used renewable source
of energy. Massive generators are stored inside of dams and, when water flows
through the spin turbine blades, they generate power. The Hoover Dam is a
famous example, able to generate roughly 4 billion
kilowatt-hours of power
each year — enough for 1.3 million people.

Hydroelectricity
does come with disadvantages, making it difficult for widespread adoption.
Start-up costs, including construction, are typically high. In some cases, it
can cause changes to the land, wildlife habitats and water quality. While it
does have an environmental impact, hydroelectric power is considered
nonpolluting.

5. Nuclear Energy

Nuclear
energy has grown over the past few years, and now makes up 4.4% of global energy
consumption. Nuclear plants — 450 operable
reactors across 50 countries
— generate about 11% of the world’s electricity.
Inside each reactor, atoms split, heating water into steam. This steam spins a
turbine and generates electricity.

There
are no carbon emissions involved in nuclear power because reactors do not use
fossil fuels. Instead, they use uranium. Nuclear is typically very safe.
However, many are fearful of incidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima. Despite
the small risk, nuclear power is still considered one of the best options for
renewable energy, with 60 more plants currently under construction.

Pollution
and climate change are long-term obstacles many are looking to solve. One step
is to move away from the consumption of fossil fuels, resources like oil, coal
and gas. Many are already searching for sustainable alternatives, including
options like hydroelectricity and nuclear energy.



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