Here’s all the energy the world used in 2017, the last year with available data, broken down by fuel or energy type. It shows all the energy consumed for all purposes and in all forms. The data is converted to millions of tonnes of oil equivalent — the amount of oil we would have consumed if it was our only source of energy. All combined, human activities consumed the equivalent of 13,511 million tonnes of oil in 2017.
Of this, just 2000 million tonnes came from renewable sources like hydro, wind, solar and biofuel, indicating the scale of the challenge ahead. On top of the priority list is getting rid of coal, by far the most polluting fuel. In some places, like the US, market forces is helping the transition to cleaner fuels, as natural gas is out-competing coal. Gas emits less carbon than coal for the same amount of energy output, but it’s still a fossil fuel. It’s a stop-gap, not a solution.
Fortunately, renewable sources are growing explosively. This is especially true since pioneering countries have brought down the price of wind and solar dramatically (a topic for another post), making it viable for more and more countries to embrace it. The barrier to becoming a manufacturer of solar panels and wind turbines is actually very low, making it possible for most countries around the world to build domestic production capacity. This would make exponential growth possible. It’s only a matter of time.
Data for 2017:
mtoe = million tonnes of oil equivalent