GLOBAL RESOURCES ANALYSIS
RESOURCES | ENERGY
The first resource mankind heavily depend on is energy. More specific: fossil energy, which is 87% of the global energy market. Everything we do and buy is based on energy. Even something not as fossil as fresh food. For each calorie of food consumed in the USA 90 calories fossil energy is used (globally average 10 calories). The world is using a lot of energy and each year this figure rise more and more. Logical to explain with a growing world population and growing world prosperity. Two developments that really push global energy demand each year further. We don't know the energy price component of each product/service yet. Knowing the energy price component of products/services was not necessary in times of relatively cheap energy prices. Our energy use has evolved from the cow we used in agriculture to more easily plough the soil, till jet engines that bring us to the other end of the world. We use so much energy, we even not know how much, but products/services prices will tell us that exactly the coming years. We are energy. Our life is fully based on cheap widely available fossil energy. Our lives will change dramatically when higher energy prices become clear in product and services prices. Up till now (start 2008) energy resources are almost just equal to fossil carbons (with just a small role for nuclear energy). Fossil energy issues have become a global issue. First by the Climate Change discussion, but this CC discussion become more and more overruled by the PeakOil, PeakCoal and PeakGas discussion, also know as Latest Carbons or Post Carbon discussion. Because the world energy demand over strip the world energy supply, fossil energy prices has rising +57% (oil) and +55% (coal) in 2007 and coal has only in the first month of 2008 another +20% added to her prices. And this rise will continue: China only is currently building 500 new gigantic coal to power plants, each day the car fleet of China is rising severely and they all need once or several times a week a full tank of gasoline. Energy is becoming more and more expensive. Beside these huge demand rises: Cheap carbons (oil/coal/gas) are running out, giving first severe higher prices, later with additional only good relation deliveries, till all resources are used. Energy is the main facet of prosperity: put this in one powerful line: above inflation level rising energy prices, give automatically less prosperity. Energy gets the weekly headlines because our energy consumption is so huge and every product/service we use (till the food we eat) has a high energy part of the cost price. With the current high energy prices of oil/coal/gas transition away from carbons to renewables has become much more too very easy. As earlier already stated: transition away from finites to renewables only happen when the fossil finites overprice the new renewables. This has happened in the last part of 2007 for oil and is still (more extreme) happening for coal in 2008. The sun and the wind can deliver us power against severe lower costs than the new oil and coal prices (don't calculate on old data based on old prices). Hydro carbons still rise monthly in price, renewables still lower monthly in price, making renewable energy each day more economic and carbons each day less attractive. To harvest the renewable climate based energy of sun and wind we need investments. Solar energy and wind energy are no longer by alternative businesses dominated sectors of economy. Solar energy and wind energy will become two main industrial sectors, just look to the daily energy expenses/budget of the world. Solar energy will mainly appear in two forms: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in deserts (mirrors that heat a transport fluid which concentrated heat is used to generate power) or Photo Voltaic (PV) on houses and buildings (the blue panels we all know). Wind power will also mainly appear in two forms: Tower Based (huge, high, standalone or in park collections) and Roof Based (small, very quiet, more designed). By use of CSP technology in only 1% of the Sahara can power Europe, Africa and the Middle East completely during day time. Night time power (always has been cheaper than daytime power), will be severely more expensive than day time power. The power will be transported from the Sahara by new to build High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) infrastructures. To replace the current enormously energy consumption demand of the world by renewable capacity and realize also the here fore needed HVDC infrastructures is one of the greatest challenges mankind has faced ever. The world energy consumption (and therefore budget) is so gigantic that words can't express this and figures display such a numbers that they don't speak into today reality. Wide scale realized technology can replace fossil energy and make global energy resources almost complete renewable. Of course the decentral solution is the best solution (centralization gives always additional risks), but also huge parks and (more imported) connecting infrastructures can be designed against failures and attacks. But from geopolitical perspective the local/decentral option give the best insured independency. Technology and finance will help us to ensure our further energy demand, and yes, energy will be higher priced in the further, than it was in the past. Mobility (cars/planes) is one of the things that we do that consume maybe to much energy to maintain by the much more higher energy prices in the future. And if we switch away from carbon energy, we not only need new power generation but also a complete new install base. Cars that run on fossil fuel can't run on power, therefore there is a complete new global fleet of cars needed. Transition away from carbon is such a giant operation that it only will be done driven by economic reasons. Energy resources can be made easily renewable.
Author: Gijs Graafland
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