Global electricity consumption has risen faster than the world population, a contributing factor to an increase in the average amount of electricity consumed per person, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Nearly all of the increase can be attributed to rising electricity consumption in developing countries outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperative and Development (OECD). Electricity is most commonly used in buildings for lighting and appliances, in industrial processes for producing goods and in transportation for powering rail and light-duty vehicles, according to the EIA.
The rise in electricity consumption per person shows possible changes in how the economy is composed, such as shifts to more energy-intensive industries and changes in service demand, including increased demand for air conditioning and appliances.
The consumption increase has been partially offset by measures to increase efficiency, such as more efficient lighting. In some countries, the consumption has been impacted by outsourcing energy-intensive industries to other countries. In the United States, total electricity consumption has increased slightly since the early 2000s, but electricity consumption per person fell almost 7%, from 2000 to 2017 because of improvements in energy efficiency and changes in the economy that have contributed to less electricity use per unit of economic output.
The rise in global electricity consumption is related to economic growth, but the relationship is unique depending on the country. Economic growth per person can happen independently of a rise in electricity usage per person in countries with large, developed economies; residential demand that is largely satisfied; and smaller portions of economic growth as a result of industrial production. The production of a service with greater economic values doesn’t require any more electricity than a lower-value service.
Electricity use is more closely related to economic growth in countries with rapidly rising residential electricity consumption and energy-intensive activities. Electricity consumption per person in economies of less developed non-OECD countries has more than doubled between 2000 and 2017, compared to nearly flat growth in the economies of more developed OECD countries over the same period.
In the United States, average electricity consumption per person was nearly 12,000 kilowatt-hours in 2017, but it can vary largely by state. The annual consumption ranged from more than 25,000 kilowatt-hours in Wyoming and North Dakota but less than 7,000 kilowatt-hours in Hawaii and California.