Monday, June 30, 2008

Energy needs for the next generation

Renewable energy can quadruple over the next 20 years and nuclear energy can double and the need for fossil energy (oil, coal, natural gas) will still have to grow in this country to meet demands. [right, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. Credit, Nuclear Power Engineeering]

This is the assessment of Scott Tinker, State Geologist of Texas, and the new president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

Scott described the future of energy and the role of state geological surveys in a presentation to the AASG annual meeting today.

He noted that 87% of energy produced in the world today is from fossil fuel. A number I had not seen previously is that oil as a percentage of world energy supply, peaked in 1979 at about 47%. It has steadily decreased since then to about 36% plus or minus, today, and is projected to continue to decline. What that means is coal and natural gas have increasingly made up the difference. And with coal under pressure for its CO2 contributions, the demands on natural gas and nuclear will be huge. We import 20% of our national needs in natural gas today, but it appears that will have to increase dramatically in conjunction with nuclear power doubling and renewables quadrupling. Each of these is daunting on its own. Cumulatively, we face serious challenges as a nation in a rapidly developing world.

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