Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

Energy and Electricity in Industrial Nations: Parsing Growing Consumption into Population and Non-population Components

Author:Allan Mazur
Date: July 2010

The growth in industrial nations of total primary energy supply (TPES) and electricity consumption, over the period 1960 to 2008, is decomposed into components due to population growth and nonpopulation factors. Yearly fluctuations in TPES and electricity due to nonpopulation factors are greater than those due to population growth. However, after 1970, nonpopulation increments were often negative, sometimes adding, sometimes subtracting from cumulative consumption. Population components were always positive, continually adding to consumption. In some nations (the U.S., Canada, the UK and Australia), the cumulative effect of population came to equal or exceed the influence of nonpopulation factors in TPES. The situation is different for electricity consumption, which rose so quickly in all nations that population growth made little difference. Each nation consistently follows its own energy trajectory as either a high or low consumer, its rank order in 1960 predicting its rank order in 2008. Apparently the nexus of energy producing and consuming organizations associated with each fuel, and with the electric grid, fosters continual growth in consumption, even though there is no evidence that this improves societal wellbeing.


Allan Mazur
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 08/27/2010 12:16:31