Energy Future

The world's largest energy producers

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
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The world gets its power from a massive range of resources: From traditional fossil fuels to technologies like nuclear and wind.

Here, CNBC takes a look at the world's largest energy producers, according to figures from the World Energy Council (WEC).

Oil – Saudi Arabia – 526 million tons per year

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Saudi Arabia's huge oil reserves have placed the Middle Eastern country at the center of the global energy industry.

Its first well was struck in 1938 and today the oil and gas sector is responsible for around 50 percent of the country's economy, according to the oil-producing cartel OPEC.

While oil may not have the best reputation among environmentalists, it is still an integral part of modern life, especially when it comes to fueling transportation such as cars and planes.

Coal – China – 2.48 billion tonnes of oil equivalent per year

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China may still be the king of coal, but its appetite for fossil fuels might just be dwindling. August saw the country produce 278 million tons of coal, an 11 percent fall.

While coal may not be as fashionable as cleaner sources such as solar and wind, it still has an important part to play. The WEC says that globally, coal consumption is growing and "expected to increase even more as developing countries expand their energy needs."

Gas – Russia – 576 million tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) per year

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Gas is an integral part of Russia's energy mix with the country's energy giant, Gazprom, claiming that it holds the world's largest natural gas reserves.

Last year saw Gazprom – which the Russian government has a majority stake in – produce 418.5 billion cubic meters of gas.

The International Energy Agency describes natural gas as being "technically and financially" low risk, while it is seen as being "lower carbon relative to other fossil fuels."

Hydropower – China – 61.4 mtoe per year

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A world leader in hydro-power, China is home to the vast Three Gorges Dam.

The World Energy Council describes hydropower as being "the most flexible and consistent of the renewable energy resources."

According to the International Hydropower Association, China added 19.4 gigawatts of hydropower capacity during 2015. To put that figure in perspective, Brazil - another big player when it comes to hydropower - installed 2.5 gigawatts.

Nuclear – US – 22.7 mtoe per year

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While it may be a controversial issue, nuclear power is nevertheless a major source of energy in the U.S.

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, 19.5 percent of U.S. electricity came from nuclear energy in 2015, with 99 reactors currently in operation.

Wind – US – 10.3 mtoe per year

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Wind energy is becoming an increasingly important part of the energy mix and economy of the U.S.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, at the end of 2015 88,000 jobs were "wind-related" while over the last 10 years, investment in new wind projects has hit $128 billion.

The U.S. will soon welcome its first offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. The Block Island wind farm will be a 30 megawatt, five-turbine facility that will help to create over 300 jobs and slash carbon emissions by 40,000 tons annually.

Geothermal – US – 1.29 mtoe per year

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The U.S. produces more electricity via geothermal energy – heat from below the earth's surface – than any other country, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Geothermal energy has significant potential. In 2011, the International Energy Agency's "Technology Roadmap: Geothermal Heat and Power" stated there was the potential for geothermal electricity generation to hit 1,400 terawatt hours per year, roughly 3.5 percent of the world's electricity production.

This would help to cut nearly 800 megatons of CO2 emissions annually.

Solar – Germany – 25 GW

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The WEC states that solar has a "big part to play" when it comes to slashing carbon emissions and a clean, sustainable future for the planet.

It may seem counter intuitive but Germany – not famed for its scorching temperatures – had 25 gigawatts of installed solar capacity as of 2011, according to the WEC.

The German government has placed a big emphasis on clean energy. In 2015, renewable energy accounted for around 30 percent of gross electricity generation, up from roughly 26 percent in 2014, according to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Solar, together with wind energy, are described by the government as "the most important renewables in Germany's energy transition."