Thursday, July 28, 2011

Post # 49: That's 1 step forward and 2 steps back...

One of my favorite sources of global energy data is BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, published annually.  The 2011 version (which actually reports data from 2010) can be found here.

Some highlights:

1. Global energy consumption grew by 5.6% – the strongest growth since 1973.

2. China's share of global energy consumption was 20.3%.  The U.S. share was 19.0%

3. Total global oil consumption grew by 3.1% – the smallest consumption growth of all the fossil fuels.

4.  Global natural gas consumption grew by 7.4% – the strongest growth since 1984.

5.  Coal accounted for 29.6% of global energy consumption – the highest percentage since 1970.  China's share of global coal consumption was 48.2%

6.  Renewable energy consumption accounted for just 1.8% of global energy consumption, but U.S. renewable energy consumption grew by 16.3% from 2009 to 2010.

7.  Global hydroelectricity consumption grew by 5.3%, but U.S. hydroelectricity consumption dropped by 6.0%.

8.  Global nuclear energy consumption grew by only 2.0%, and just 1.0% in the U.S.


We are burning more coal, damming more rivers, burning more natural gas, and straining to maintain our nuclear energy production.

Burning more coal is not a good thing until we can find a way to do it cleanly - from both the carbon capture and storage, and ash management perspectives.

As a conservationist, I'm rarely in favor of damming free-flowing streams and rivers.  I've seen first-hand the archaeological, cultural, and agricultural damage this can do.  I'm in favor of exploring kinetic hydropower.  The jury is still out, but the prospects appear promising.

Natural gas burns more cleanly than coal.  That's good.  The U.S. has significant natural gas reserves.  Problem is, it's down there in a geological "lock box" and a controversial process called "hydrofracking" is currently required to recover it.  See here and here for additional information and views on hydrofracking.  Hydrofracking is definitely one of the technologies at the center of the "energy-water nexus".

I've often said I believe there is no sustainable solution to our global energy problem that doesn't rest upon a major expansion of nuclear energy.  Energy conservation is an appropriate focus for those of us who are part of the 1.5 billion inhabitants of this globe who live in the developed world.  But energy production, and lots of it, is the only option available for the over 4 billion people on this small blue planet who have little or no access to energy - especially electricity.

So there you have it... the view from and Sherrell's sound-bite interpretation of the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

Just thinking,


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