Medal Fever

olafm_2760-72It was the 1972 Munich Olympics that first got me really excited about this mega sports event. (Not least because my parents used the opportunity to buy our first colour TV – something I was convinced the rest of the street had already done years before.)

Since that time, I have a developed a four-year thrill rhythm linked to the Games.  Naturally, my euphoria soars every time my fellow-Germans do well in the medal count.  My wife is from Slovakia, so I have graciously added my support to their athletes as well (which is useful during the Winter Games, since, to be honest, her compatriots usually do very well in ice hockey).  More recently, having moved from Hamburg to London, I started to follow Team GB as well. That’s made me legitimately able to share in the pride over achieving a global number 2 in Rio!

It was this gold, silver and bronze mindset that got me thinking when I was looking at BP data about 2015 Energy Consumption by energy source for 72 countries and regions.  (Link).   Just for fun, I started to rank each energy source in order of importance by country or region; awarding medals accordingly.

Here is the result:


Oil got 40 out of 72 Gold medals – including in the US, Canada, Brazil, Germany, the UK, Japan and South Korea.  Gas won Gold in Argentina, Russia, Iran and tied with oil in Turkey.  Together, oil and gas took more than 80 percent of the gold medals in my Energy Games.

Coal took the lead in 11 places including China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.  The overall results definitely would have looked different if this had been the Asian Games.

When I showed the medal table to friends often three questions came up:

  1. Which is the only country in the world where nuclear got gold?The answer:  France
  2. What are the only two countries in which hydro energy came first?Norway and Sweden
  3. Which was the only country where oil failed to make the podium?The Ukraine, where coal took Gold, natural gas won Silver and nuclear got Bronze .

Now, after a short pause, my Olympic Fever is having its usual Paralympic relapse before the usual  four-year remission.

The energy race, however, is perpetual.  And given forecasts about energy demand, I’m confident that come 2020 and the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, four out of five countries will continue to rely on oil or gas as their Gold standard for energy.


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