Global Primary Energy Sources 20131

The percentage breakdown of annual energy extraction.

How all that energy is used (2013)2

Total energy use: 155 Petawatt-hours per year (155 million million KWh). The lost energy is mostly energy lost as waste heat up power station chimneys during the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. Heat includes industrial heat as well as homes and workplaces.

The maximum global potential of different forms of renewable energy (PWh/year)3

How much energy we could generate from existing technology, if we installed the necessary panels, turbines, etc on a realistic fraction of the available space for them.

What’s the total?


* PV (photovoltaic) and CSP (concentrating solar power). The largest figure for solar farms assumes covering 2% of the planet’s surface with solar panels, equivalent to the size of India or a quarter of the world’s farmland.

** Biomass and biofuels are a very risky energy source and should be kept to a minimum.

What do we need?

160 PWh/year - This is the amount of energy required to provide 9 billion people with an eco-efficient version of a ‘modern’ Northern lifestyle (with decent public transport, cycling, car sharing, electrified vehicles, energy-efficient homes, more localized production and consumption, less flying, less consumer junk etc.).4

Information as an infographic for sharing:

  1. BP Statistical Review 2014, Global Wind Energy Council, Renewable Energy Policy Network, International Energy Agency
  2. International Energy Agency
  3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, plus the upcoming NoNonsense Renewable Energy
  4. See and the upcoming NoNonsense Renewable Energy for more details of how this would work, including dealing with the variable nature of solar and wind power, matching renewable supply to demand, and the challenge of producing sustainable aviation fuels.