World Energy Resources

About the Resources Work Programme:

Energy is the primary ‘fuel’ for social and economic development, but energy and energy-related activities also have significant impacts on other areas such as the environment and technology impacts. Therefore, it is important for decision-makers to have access to reliable and accurate data in a user-friendly format. The energy sector has long lead times, and therefore any long-term strategy should be based on sound information and data. Detailed resource data, selected cost data and a technology overview in the main World Energy Resources report provide an excellent foundation for assessing different energy options based on factual information supplied by the Council’s members from all over the world.


Some of the changes we have seen over the last couple of years are:

  • The past 15 years have seen unprecedented change in the consumption of energy resources
  • Unexpected high growth in the renewables market.
  • Growth of unconventional resources
  • Improvements in technology evolution for all the resources
  • Decrease in energy prices
  • Decoupling of economic growth and GHG emissions
  • More diversified energy mix achieved
  • Growth in community ownership and development of micro grids
  • General trend of smaller generation across technologies and resources
  • Energy sources are moving closer to consumers
  • Costs are coming down for most energy resources and technologies
  • Subsidies for clean energy as well as fossil fuels are decreasing in some countries.
  • Competitive auctions, changing the development process and risk profile of individual projects.


The World Energy Council has for decades been a pioneer in the field of energy resources and the work is divided into thirteen resource-specific work groups, called Knowledge Networks; including three groups investigating the cross-cutting issues of carbon capture and storage and energy storage. These Knowledge Networks provide updated data for the website and publications, as well as working on timely deep-dives with a resource focus.

This year’s programme will focus on the disseminate and roll out of existing Resources content at appropriate events throughout the year.


Reports and Data

The latest World Energy Resources 2016 report was published and launched at the World Energy Congress in Istanbul. The report featured updated data and analysis on each of thirteen topics with introductory commentaries written by experts specialised in those fields. The tables provide an overview of global resources, reserves and production in the case of traditional fuels and installed capacity and electricity generation for the new and renewable resource chapters. Each chapter also features country notes providing further detail on those countries with considerable resources or new resource developments.

“The World Energy Resources (WER) is a unique World Energy Council study covering 13 key energy resources and three cross-cutting topics. It is an indispensable tool for energy sector planners and executives, which provides a solid basis for strategic decision-making.

The World Energy Resources is at the core of other World Energy Council studies, in particular, the Scenarios and Trilemma flagships.

As Chair of this Study Group, I am committed to continuous improvement of the work and excited about the 24th edition, which was published in 2016.”

Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer, Chair of the World Energy Resources study group

Hans-Wilhelm Schiffer, Executive Chair WEC Resources
Dr. Schiffer spent more than 20 years working for the RWE group in Essen, Germany, where he held various positions. He left his position as head of RWE’s General Economic Policy/Science department in April 2014, but continues to work for RWE as a consultant and advises the Executive Board on issues concerning international policy matters, in particular.

“The World Energy Resources (WER) is a unique World Energy Council study covering 12 key energy resources and three cross-cutting topics. It is an indispensable tool for energy sector planners and executives, which provides a solid basis for strategic decision making.
The World Energy Resources is at the core of other World Energy Council studies, in particular, the Scenarios and Trilemma flagships.
As Chair of this Study Group I am committed to continuous improvement of the work and excited about the 24th edition, which will be published in 2016.”

Born in 1949, he studied economics at the University of Cologne and at the Pennsylvania State University. Between 1974 and 1978, Dr. Schiffer served as scientific assistant at the Institute for Energy Economics of the Cologne University. After a nine-year career with the Federal Economics Ministry, including a period with the British Department of Energy, he moved in 1987 to work with the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Following his role as personal assistant to the parliamentary state secretary, Dr. Schiffer was appointed head of the Product-Related Environmental Protection division of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

For further information, contact us.

Contact the World Energy Council
Key messages from World Energy Resources 2013
  • The key messages emerging from the World Energy Resources survey 2013:The changes in the energy industry over the past 20 years have been significant. The growth in energy consumption has been higher than anticipated even in the high-growth scenarios. The energy industry has been able to meet this growth globally assisted by continuous increases in reserves’ assessments and improving energy production and consumption technologies. The results of the 2013 World Energy Council’s World Energy Resources survey show that there are more energy resources in the world today than 20 years ago, or ever before.


  • It is obvious that moving away from fossil fuels will take years and decades, as coal, oil and gas will remain the main energy resources in many countries. Fuel-switching does not happen overnight. The leading world economies are powered by coal: about 40% of electricity in the United States and 79% of the electricity in China is generated in coal- fired thermal plants. These plants will continue to run for decades. The main issue for coal is the CO2 penalty.


  • Contrary to the expectations of the world running out of oil within a few decades, the so called notion of ‘peak oil’ which prevailed 20 years ago, has almost been forgotten. The global crude oil reserves are almost 60% larger today than in 1993 and the production of oil has gone up by 20%. If the unconventional oil resources such as oil shale, oil sands, extra heavy oil and natural bitumen are taken into account, the oil endowment of the world could be quadrupled. An increasing share of oil will be consumed in the rapidly growing transport sector, where it will remain the principal fuel.


  • Natural gas is expected to continue its growth spurred by falling or stable prices, and thanks to the growing contribution of unconventional gas, such as shale gas. In addition to power generation, natural gas is expected to play an increasing role as a transport fuel.


  • The future of nuclear energy is uncertain. While some countries, mainly in Europe, are making plans to withdraw from nuclear, other countries are looking to establish nuclear power generation. The future of nuclear depends to a large degree on public acceptance, costs and liabilities.


  • The development of renewables, excluding large hydro, has been considerably slower than expected 20 years ago. Despite the exponential growth of renewable resources in percentage terms, in particular wind power and solar PV, renewable energy still accounts for a small percentage of TPES in most countries. Their share of energy supply is not expected to change dramatically in the coming years. The continuing growth of renewables depends on subsidies and other support provided by governments. Integration of intermittent renewables in the electricity grids also remains an issue, as it results in additional costs for the system and thus higher electricity bill.


  • Energy efficiency helps address the “energy trilemma” and provides an immediate opportunity to decrease energy intensity. This will achieve energy savings and reduce the environmental impacts of energy production and use.


  • Finally, demand for energy will continue to grow. Even if global energy resources seem to be abundant today, there are other constraints facing the energy sector, above all, significant capital investment in developing and developed economies is needed. The environment and climate, in particular, pose an additional challenge. Clean technologies will require adequate financing, and consumers all over the world should be prepared to pay higher prices for their energy than today. Energy is global and to make the right choices, decision makers should look at the global picture and base their decisions on a thorough life cycle analysis and reliable energy information. World Energy Council has been and remains the prime reference institution for energy resource assessments, independent of geopolitics.

Total Primary Energy Supply by resource (graph below)

Resource and production data



Key indicators from World Energy Resources 2013



The Council website features a publicly accessible database of resource and production data for each of the resources, navigable by resource, region or country.