Oil, also known as petroleum, is a non-renewable form of energy that has served as a primary source for global industry and transportation for over a century. Formed from the remains of dead plants and animals that lived millions of years ago, it is a fossil fuel that is found beneath the earth’s surface. The energy stored in oil is released when it is burned, allowing it to be converted into different forms such as heat or light, and is further used in the manufacturing of many products including plastics, paints and pharmaceuticals.
In terms of electricity generation, oil is often burnt in power plants to heat water and produce steam. This steam then drives a turbine connected to a generator to produce electricity. However, as the extracted oil must first undergo refining before it can be used for energy production, the overall process, from extraction to electricity generation, is both complex and energy-intensive.
One of the major disadvantages of using oil as an energy source is its high carbon intensity. In fact, the carbon intensity of oil averages around 650 gCO2eq/kWh, making it one of the fossil fuels that contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions when compared to low carbon energy sources. As an example, nuclear, solar and wind energy have far lower carbon intensities, with averages of 12, 45, and 11 gCO2eq/kWh respectively. This implies that these sources emit significantly less carbon dioxide when generating the same amount of electricity, thus having a much lesser impact on the environment, which is essential in our collective efforts to combat climate change.
Additionally, the combustion of oil also results in air pollution, posing significant health risks. The burning of oil releases various pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates that contribute to smog, acid rain, and respiratory problems among populations. By contrast, low-carbon energy solutions like wind, nuclear, and solar do not contribute to air pollution during their operation, making them not only environmentally, but also socially sustainable alternatives to oil.
In conclusion, while oil has played a pivotal role in powering our economies, its high carbon intensity and contribution to air pollution warrant a transition towards cleaner, low-carbon energy sources such as nuclear, solar and wind power. Their combinations could play a critical role in ensuring a greener and more sustainable future by drastically reducing our carbon emissions and preserving the environment.
|Country/Region||Watts / person||%||TWh|
|Curaçao||379.4 W||70.9%||0.6 TWh|
|Argentina||41.4 W||10.6%||16.4 TWh|
|North Macedonia||24.2 W||5.1%||0.4 TWh|
|Australia||18.9 W||1.7%||4.3 TWh|
|Croatia||9.1 W||1.7%||0.3 TWh|
|Bulgaria||8.7 W||1.0%||0.5 TWh|
|Chile||7.7 W||1.6%||1.3 TWh|
|Colombia||6.2 W||3.3%||2.8 TWh|
|Romania||4.7 W||1.4%||0.8 TWh|
|Indonesia||2.8 W||2.1%||6.6 TWh|
|Iceland||0.9 W||0.0%||0.0 TWh|
|EU||0.4 W||0.1%||1.6 TWh|
|New Zealand||0.1 W||0.0%||0.0 TWh|
|United Arab Emirates||0.0 W||0.0%||0.0 TWh|