The Economist’s Free Exchange blog has a post today about Saudi Arabia’s growing domestic oil consumption. Saudi Arabia now uses as much oil per person as the US, but not for the same purposes. Because of domestic subsidies, Saudi Arabia generates most of its electricity from oil (rather than gas, coal, nuclear, or hydroelectrics, like the rest of the world for whom oil is too expensive), and thus now consumes about a quarter of its own oil output. And what do Saudi Arabians use electricity for?
Saudi power-generating capacity has doubled in the past decade. Partly this is to mitigate the fearful heat: according to a report from Chatham House, a think-tank, air-conditioning units soak up half of all power generated at peak consumption periods.
According to one source, about 20% of the energy used by American homes, and 13% by American businesses, goes to air conditioning, not to mention American military outposts. I wonder what the percentage of all electricity consumption worldwide is for air conditioning.