There are a couple of different ways to look at world electricity consumption, and depending on the rubric being used the outcomes can be pretty different. When looking at raw consumption, it’s not usually any surprise that the countries that use the most electricity are also the largest, both in terms of land mass and population. China, the United States, India, and Russia usually top this list. These numbers don’t always paint an exact picture of how much electricity is being used on a person-by-person level, though; for these purposes one would need to look at consumption per capita. Iceland is typically the leader on these charts, followed by the Nordic countries and Canada. These countries tend to have many rural outposts and energy has a long way to travel to get to individual homes and businesses, which can increase overall consumption — as well as cost.
Understanding Consumption Rubrics
It can be difficult to assign consumption rankings without first gathering a lot of different statistical data. Electricity is used for a lot of different things, and is often drained faster and in greater volumes by industry and major operations than by individuals. Assigning numeric values to nations and localities is usually done a couple of different ways at once. Some authorities look at how much a country uses as opposed to how much it generates, which can give a scaled view of the overall energy exchange. Where energy comes from is also an important consideration; some is hydroelectric, for example, whereas some is generated by burning coal and other natural resources.
Top Five Raw Consumers
Tabulating a nation’s usage on the whole is often the most straightforward way to assign rankings of which is using the most electricity. The top five overall users in the world tend to be, in descending order, China; the United States; India; Russia; and Japan. Even on a list this short there is a great deal of disparity between the top and the bottom, though. Numbers change slightly every year, but recent estimates put China’s annual consumption around 5,322,300,000 megawatts per hour per year (MW/hr/yr), but Japan’s is usually closer to 859,700,000 MW/hr/yr.
Japan is bumped out of the top five by analysts who consider the European Union (EU) as a single entity, which is an increasingly common practice. The EU is made up of many different countries, most of which are quite small on their own. There is a lot that member states share, both economically and environmentally, so on some level it can be useful to consider its consumption as a whole. In these cases, the EU usually ranks number 3, after the US and before India.
Per Capita Listing
Analysts frequently also look at energy usage on a per capita basis, which takes things like overall population into account. These sorts of rankings can give a more descriptive picture of how exactly resources are being used. In nearly all cases the countries that consume the most energy per person aren’t the same as those that consume the most on the whole. The following table shows the top 25 electricity users and their approximate values, in kilowatt hours (kWh).
|country||annual electricity consumption per capita|
|U.A. Emirates||14,714 kWh|
|United States||12,878 kWh|
|Cayman Islands||9,102 kWh|
|New Zealand||8,525 kWh|
|Virgin Islands||7,681 kWh|
|New Caledonia||7,000 kWh|
|San Marino||6,653 kWh|