The energy industry is the totality of all of the industries involved in the production and sale of energy, including fuel extraction, manufacturing, refining and distribution. Modern society consumes large amounts of fuel, and the energy industry is a crucial part of the infrastructure and maintenance of society in almost all countries.
In particular, the energy industry comprises:
- the fossil fuel industries, which include petroleum industries ( oil companies, petroleum refiners, fuel transport and end-user sales at gas stations) coal industries (extraction and processing) and the natural gas industries (natural gas extraction, and coal gas manufacture, as well as distribution and sales);
- the electrical power industry, including electricity generation, electric power distribution and sales;
- the nuclear power industry;
- the renewable energy industry, comprising alternative energy and sustainable energy companies, including those involved in hydroelectric power, wind power, and solar power generation, and the manufacture, distribution and sale of alternative fuels; and,
- traditional energy industry based on the collection and distribution of firewood, the use of which, for cooking and heating, is particularly common in poorer countries.
The increased dependence during the 20th century on non-renewable fossil fuel and nuclear power, means that the energy industry has frequently been an important contributor to pollution and environmental impacts of the economy. Until recently, fossil fuels were the main source of energy generation in most parts of the world, and are a major contributor to global warming and pollution. As part of human adaptation to global warming, many economies are investing in renewable and sustainable energy.