Twentyfirst Century Challenges People Power and Energy

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At the end of the 20th century, the 0.9 billion people of the economically Developed Nations of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) used ~6.8 kWt/person of thermal power. The 5.1

billion people of the Developing Nations use ~1.6 kWt/person (Nakicenovic et al., 1998). If the large per capita use of power by former states of the Soviet Union is subtracted, the other non-OECD nations use less than 1 kWt/person of commercial power (Criswell, 1998). The majority of people in the Developing Nations have very limited, if any, access to commercial power and essentially no access to electric power. It is commonly stated that the world has adequate fossil-fuel resources for many centuries. This is because virtually all projections of global energy consumption assume restricted economic growth in the Developing Nations. Such studies usually project accumulated global consumption of carbon fuels to be less than 2000 TWt-y over the 21st century. That is only true if most of the people in the world stay energy and economically poor throughout the 21st century.

What scale of commercial power is required by the year 2050, and beyond, to provide ten billion people with sufficient clean commercial energy to enable global energy and human prosperity? Western Europe and Japan now use ~ 6 kWt/person. Analyses of the mid-1960s United States and world economies revealed that ~ 6 kWt/person, or in the 21st century ~2 kWe/person of electric power, can enable economic prosperity (Goeller and Weinberg, 1976; Criswell and Waldron, 1990; Criswell, 1994 and references therein). This level of commercial power enables the provision of goods and services adequate to the present standard of living in Western Europe or Japan. All industrially and agriculturally significant minerals and chemicals can be extracted from the common materials of the crust of the Earth. Fresh water can be obtained from desalting seawater and brackish water. Adequate power is provided to operate industries, support services, and provide fuels and electricity for transportation and residential functions. Global power prosperity by 2050, two generations into the 21st century, requires ~ 60 terawatt of thermal power (60 TWt = 60 X 1012 Wt = 6 kWt/person X 10 X 109 people). With reasonable technology advancement, ~2-3 kWe/person can provide these same goods and services.

From 1850 to 2000, humankind consumed ~ 500 TWt-y of non-renewable fuels. During the 20th century, commercial power increased from ~2 TWt to 14 TWt. Power prosperity by 2050 requires an increase from ~ 14 to 60 TWt. The total increase of 46 TWt is 3.3 times present global capacity and requires the installation of ~0.9 TWt of new capacity per year starting in 2010. This is 7.5 times greater than the rate of commercial power installation over the 20th century. Sixty terawatts by 2050 is two to three times higher than considered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Hoffert et al., 1998). It is also higher than is projected by recent detailed studies.

The World Energy Council sponsored a series of studies projecting world energy usage and supply options over the 21st century. The International

Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) conducted the studies and reported the results at the 17th World Energy Congress in Houston (Nakicenovic et al., 1998). The models are constrained, in part, by the capital required to install the new power systems. The ability of Developing Nations to purchase fuels is a limitation. Power capacity is also limited by operating costs of the systems and externality costs such as for environmental remediation and degradation of human health. Providing adequate power by 2050 requires systems that are lower in cost to build, operate, and phase out than present fossil systems.

Nakicenovic et al. (1998) developed three general models for the growth of commercial power during the 21st century that are consistent with present use of power in the Developed and Developing Nations. Interactions between the rates of growth of commercial power, populations, and national economies were modeled. Their Case A2, adapted to Table 9.1, projects the greatest increase in commercial power over the 21st century. Case A2 projects the most aggressive development of coal, oil, and natural gas and assumes the least environmental and economic impacts from burning these fossil fuels. By 2050, per capita power use rises to 8.8 kWt/person in the Developed Nations and to 2.5 kWt/person in the Developing Nations. By 2100 the per capita power usage of Developed and Developing Nations converge to 5.5 kWt/person and energy prosperity is achieved. Increasing economic productivity in the use of thermal power is assumed over the 21st century. This enables the decrease in per capita power use in the Developed Nations between 2050 and 2100.

The "All Carbon" dashed curve in Figure 9.1 depicts the total global energy consumed by the Developed and the Developing Nation under Case A2 as if all the commercial energy were provided from fossil fuels. The curve is negative because the non-renewable fossil fuels are consumed. Fuels consumed prior to the year 2000 are not included. A total of 3600 TWt-y of fossil fuel is consumed between 2000 and 2100. This corresponds to ~2700 billion tons of equivalent oil (GToe) or ~3900 GTce of equivalent coal. The horizontal lines indicate the estimated quantities of economically ultimately recoverable (UR) conventional oil, conventional gas, unconventional oil, and coal and lignite. Coal and lignite are the dominant sources of commercial fossil fuels over the 21st century. Global energy prosperity quickly depletes the oils and natural gases. Given the uncertainties in estimates of ultimately recoverable coal and lignite, it is conceivable that they could be depleted within the 21st century. Major technological advances in coal mining technology are required once near-surface deposits are exhausted (Bockris, 1980). Coal and lignite would certainly be consumed by a 64 TWt economy a few decades into the 22nd century.

At the beginning of the 21st century, ~1.2 TWt of commercial power is

Table 9.1 21st century power, energy, and GWP models





Nakicenovic et al., 1998: Case A2 (mixed system)

Commercial power (TWt)




Total energy consumed after 2000 (TWt-y)



Per capita power: GLOBAL (kWt/person)




Developed Nations (OECD) (kWt/person)




Developing Nations (non-OECD) (kWt/person)




Population: Developed Nations (X109)




Developing Nations (X109)




Gross World (Domestic) Product (T$/y)




Summed GWP after 2000 (T$)



Energy sector investment over 21st century (T$)


Fuels costs to users @ 4 X shadow cost


Externality costs @ 4 X shadow cost


Lunar solar power system

Commercial power (TWe) "e" = electric



Total NEW LSP energy consumed after 2000




Per capita power: GLOBAL (kWe/person)




Gross World (Domestic) Product (T$/y)*




Summed GWP after 2000 (T$)



Energy Sector Investment over 21st century (T$)

60 to 300

for LSP(Ref) and LSP(No EO)

Fuels costs to users



Externality costs


* Economic output of unit of electric energy increases @ 1 %/y.

produced from renewable sources. It comes primarily from burning wood and secondarily from hydroelectric installations. The upward directed curve in Figure 9.1 depicts the cumulative energy supplied by a new source of renewable energy. For renewable energy the curve is positive because net new energy is being provided to the biosphere. No significant terrestrial resources are depleted to provide the energy. This upward curve assumes that a new renewable power system is initiated in 2010 and that it rapidly grows, by 2050, to the functional equivalent in output of ~60 TWt. The renewable system operates at the equivalent of ~60 TWt level thereafter. By 2100, the renewable system has contributed the equivalent of 4500 TWt-y of net new commercial thermal

000 000 000 000 000 0 000 000 000 000 000



UR: Unconv. Oil

All "Carbon

Figure 9.1 Cumulative energy utilized after the year 2000 and ultimately recoverable

energy to humankind's commercial activities on Earth. Thereafter, the renewable energy system contributes the equivalent of 6000 TWt-y per century. What are the options for providing 60 TWt, or the equivalent of ~20 TWe, of commercial power by 2050 and for centuries thereafter?

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