Thursday, July 14, 2011

World Energy Use

"Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it."
- attributed to Mark Twain
There is much talk about converting to renewable energy resources but what has the world accomplished?
A report by British Petroleum, 2011 Statistical Review of World Energy, reveals that while renewable usage grew at an amazing rate, Fossil fuels gained market share overall. How can wind & solar increase at a greater rate but lose ground? Consider: would you rather have 70% interest on $100 or 1% interest on one million dollars?

Wind grew by 24.6% and solar by 73%. This is a fantastic increase but the total energy from wind and solar remains very small; Solar amounts to only 0.1% of global electric power, Wind is now 1.6% of global electric power. So even if these had grown by 400% they would still be dwarfed by even a modest increase in coal or oil.

An interesting offshoot of the study. China used 2/3 of the coal consumed last year and has surpassed the US as the world's #1 energy consumer. China passed the US for CO2 emissions five years ago.

For the 11th straight year, oil has a smaller slice of the global energy pie (now 33.6%). This is not to say oil usage went down. In fact it increased by 3.1% last year. But coal grabbed more of the pie with an increase of 29.6% for a total of 25.6%. We may see coal surpass oil if China continues on its present course.

Bottom Line

There are some who believe that high oil prices are here to stay. They point to ever increasing energy demands from China (up 11.2% last year ). Another indicator: while global oil use increased by 3.1%, the production of oil only increased by 2.2%. This was the strongest increase in production in 16 years but not enough to meet a growing demand.

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