April 20, 2009
To gain some persepctive on the energy crisis, we’ve compiled a few statistics and graphs. I’d love to see some discussion and comments here… And if there are data you’d like to see represented in this overview, please contact us with a reference or use the comment form on this blog. (Comments aren’t visible from the front page of the blog, but if you click on the headline of a particular post, that view will allow you to comment.)
I’ll update the version of this presentation on the home page as needed, based on what comes up here…
Global demand for energy continues to grow. In 2007 alone, global energy consumption grew by 2.4%1, and analysts predict a further 50% increase from 2005 to 20302.
This plot shows only marketed primary energy—that is, commercially traded energy in its crudest form, such as coal, crude oil, or electricity from solar panels, wind turbines, or dams. Biomass (e.g. wood, peat) is not fully represented, since it is often collected for use by individuals rather than traded commercially. Source: 1965-1979 (1) (excludes wind, geothermal and solar energy); 1980-2030 (2) (includes renewables).
Although developed countries currently consume the most energy, demand is growing fastest in less developed countries-- those that are not members of the Organization for Economica Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Source: 1965-1979: (1); 1980-2030: (2).
Among OECD member countries, those in North America have the greatest demand for energy.
Among developing nations, China and India have the fastest growing economies. The energy demands of these two countries together increased from 8% to 18% of the global total from 1980 to 2005. By 2030, China and India are projected to use 25% of the world’s energy budget2.
One factor contributing to increased energy demand is, of course, world population growth.
Population is growing fastest in developing countries.
Source: (3), (4).
With both population growth and economic growth comes increased energy demand. Per capita energy use is increasing in developing countries-- but still lags far behind that in OECD countries. Thus, even though developed countries house less than 20% of the world's population, they use about half the world's energy budget. In fact, they are responsible for an even greater percentage, if one takes into account energy used in developing countries to produce goods exported to developed countries 10.
Source: Calculated based on (1), (3) and (4).
Petroleum is the world's number one source of energy, with oil accounting for more than 1/3 of total energy consumed. Coal is second, providing more than 1/4 of the world's energy, and has been the fastest growing energy source for the past five years1. This is despite global investment in renewables: In 2007, there was a 30% increase in spending on construction of renewable energy facilities, for a total of $71 billion1. Nevertheless, renewables currently provide less than 10% of the world's energy, and subsidies for renewables pael in comparison to those for conventional energy sources. As of 2004, world governments provided $20 billion per year in subsidies for renewable energies, compared to $250 billion for other sources5.
Source: 1965-1979: (1) (excludes wind, geothermal and solar energy); 1980-2030: (2).
Although petroleum is central to the world's current energy economy, supplies are dwindling. Some projections, based mainly on market demand, show ever-increasing oil usage. But in reality, supplies are not unlimited, and some projections highlight the need to develop alternative sources as oil becomes ever more difficult to extract.
Sources: top projection: (2); middle projection: (6); bottom projection: (7).
Not only are oil and other fossil fuels non-renewable, they contribute to another of the world's scary problems: climate change. Fossil fuel combustion accounts for 62% of the global warming potential of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
How to solve the energy crisis? The transition from fossil fuel dependency probably won't be easy. But data suggest that it is indeed possible. Even with existing technologies, renewable energy sources have the potential to exceed current global energy demands.
But it hasn’t happened yet. That’s why we need Sigma Xi’s science and engineering experts to contribute their expertise toward the massive task of solving the energy problem. This is your space to think about solutions, comment on energy news and developments, and contribute your perspective. Please explore the site and be generous with your ideas.
1. BP, Statistical Review of World Energy, 2008
2. U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook, 2008
3. U.S. Census Bureau
4. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD Factbook 2009: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
5. United Nations, World Energy Assessment, 2004
6. International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook, 2008
7. Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, Newsletter ,June, 2008
8. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fourth Assessment Report, 2007, Working Group III, Chapter 1, p 103
9. The Potentials of Renewable Energy, 2004
10. Rich Countries’ Invisible Emissions, 2009