Let's say oil had never been used as an energy source, and while it could still be a resource for other things, let's say it's not as important or valuable as it is today.

And let's imagine somehow that since the industrial revolution we never transitioned to it and instead used solar and wind as our main energy sources.

Which nations would be the world's super powers in the 20th and 21st century?

Since there would be no "oil princes" or "oil magnates", which countries would be the ones with the rich and lavish lifestyles?

And who would be the new world's super powers after nuclear energy was discovered?

EDIT More details to narrow it down: basically what I'm trying to figure out is that if we had never depended on oil for energy, what would cause certain countries to be more powerful and richer than others and, eventually, rise enough to become superpowers?

If we had gone through the whole "renewable energy" route as soon as it became available, and therefore energy not being an issue to get, what would be the resource that countries fight for? Would it still be land? Would it be fighting for waterfalls and places where more energy can be produced?


closed as too broad by James, Mołot, MichaelK, dot_Sp0T, Pavel Janicek Feb 18 '17 at 19:09

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ This is an interesting question but I'm afraid that it is probably either too broad, or opinion based, or both. It would also be likely that Britain, France America and Russia would still be world powers until at least post WW1 because they owned most of the land and manpower which were more important than having oil reserves. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Feb 18 '17 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. Interesting question but as it is currently written it falls into the "too broad" category. Check out the help center for guidance. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 18 '17 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ I agree a fun question but way too broad. narrow your question down to a specific technology like say factories or shipping and you might have something answerable. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 18 '17 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ It may also not be a feasible alternative history. In the absence of fossil fuels for global mobility, would we ever have developed solar power? Most modern technology involves a union of elements and compounds from around the world. If we didn't have an effective way to transport those compounds over global distances, the unions and therefore the technologies probably never would have come into being. Go back in time to the first plants and modify their genetics such that the rotting matter which they create is not flammable, and quite literally humanity stays in the dark ages. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Feb 18 '17 at 17:09
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    $\begingroup$ OP specified wind and solar. Thus, we need to somehow skip the coal powered cars, and this is next to impossible without skipping coal altogether. Plus, we can make gasoline from coal all right, it was known much earlier than solar panels or efficient wind turbines, so allowing coal == gasoline like today, and not sun and wind as main energy source. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Feb 19 '17 at 9:42