Ongoing Global Energy Crisis
Providing for the world’s energy demands is one of the most urgent—and difficult—challenges facing our society. Even with likely improvements in efficiency and energy conservation, there is a critical need to rebalance electricity supply away from fossil fuels to ensure long-term sustainability of natural resources, reduce carbon emissions over the next half-century, and stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations thereafter. The projected electrification of transport further increases this need, as does our increasing reliance on products fabricated from the very same natural resources that are currently being burned to create electricity.
Renewable sources such as solar, photovoltaic, wind, and hydro will play an essential role in meeting this challenge, but do not have the storage capacity or available land to meet the majority baseload power requirements of most countries. Nuclear energy offers many attractions, but requires addressing the safety and proliferation problems associated with enrichment, reprocessing, and high-level waste storage. While all these solutions could and should be pursued, the need to replace the current fleet of power plants provides a clear window of opportunity to transform the energy landscape from 2030 onwards.
The world economy is structured in such a way that standing still in energy production is not an option. In order to satisfy the staggering needs of older industrial powers like the United States along with the voracious thirst of rising powers like China, global energy must grow substantially every year. According to the projections of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), world energy output, based on 2007 levels, must rise 29% to 640 quadrillion British thermal units by 2025 to meet anticipated demand.
Oil, coal and natural gas together supplying 85 percent of the world’s energy supply.Periodic shortages in crude oil supply create temporary price spikes sporadically that destabilize the global economy. These shortages are frequently met with innovation leading to improved oil extraction technology, but the price of oil usually plateaus and does not decrease allowing for more expensive energy sources to remain viable. However, many experts predict that the supply of petroleum products will eventually run out in 40 to 50 years. This means that alternative means of power production need to be implemented today.