As a crucial part of human life, energy is evolving to match with the contemporary human development and requirements. Over the last 200 years, the global population has risen by a factor of 6 while the per capita energy consumption is estimated to have risen by a factor of 20 (Grübler, 2004). It shows that not merely population growth that makes the future compounded, but the inevitable need to expand economic output also placed enormous demands on natural and environmental resources.
In 2005, the United Nation estimated that the world population will increase around 40% by the year of 2040, from 6.5 billion to 9.1 billion. Moreover, the average of GDP per capita, indicates the level of economic activity, is predicted to grow by roughly 3% annually in the non-OECD area and 1.7% in the OECD area over the next half century. Thus, as shown in fig.1.1, it is projected that the world energy demand will increase as much as 56% between 2010 and 2040, 524 to 820 quadrillion Btu (International Energy Outlook 2013). Based on these projections, the efforts on increasing energy supplying capacity and sustainability is essential for securing energy supply.
Figure1.1 World energy demand history and projection (International Energy Outlook 2013)
Currently, more than 80% of world energy demand is fulfilled from fossil fuel. Petroleumoil is the biggest energy contributor with the contribution around 175 quadrillion Btu per day in 2010, followed by Coal, 150 Btu per day, and then natural gas, 120 quadrillion Btu per day (International Energy Outlook). However, in contrast with their contribution, the reserves of the fossil is highly limited. WEO 2006 estimated the consumption of around 39 and 43 years, 164 year for oil, natural gas and coal, respectively. Considering the modified the rate of production or consumption a recent proposed model in 2005 even calculated the reserves sustainability down to 35, 37 and 107 years for oil, natural gas and coal, respectively (Shahriar & Erkan, 2009). This means at this rate coal reserves will be available until at least 2112, and it will be the single fossil fuel in the world after 2042.
Based on the summarized circumstances, one of ultimate challenge for the 21st century is to develop a new methods of generating and using energy that meet the needs of growing global civilization.
*article by Mr. Bayu Prabowo, STEM Faculty Member
• Grübler Arnulf, Transitions in Energy Use, In Encyclopedia of Energy, edited by Cutler J. Cleveland, Elsevier, New York, 2004, Pages 163-177
• International Energy Outlook 2013, U.S. Energy Information Administration. July 2013
• Shahriar Shafiee, ErkanTopal, When will fossil fuel reserves be diminished ?, Energy Policy, Volume 37, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 181-189