Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Energy, Economics and Environment...a few facts.

     Intrigued by many inputs about power/energy consumption and production numbers posted all over the web and in social media concerning Green energy versus fossil fuels....I decided to do some digging of my own to see what was true, false, and the comparisons and potentials for improvement globally in our energy consumption of fossil fuels and increase use of renewable energy.
     In 2011, the US electricity generation was 4344 billion kWh gross, 1874 TWh (43%) of it from coal-fired plant, 1047 TWh (24%) from gas, 821 TWh (19%) nuclear, 351 TWh (8%) from hydro and 121 TWh (2.8%) from wind. Annual electricity demand is projected to increase to 5,000 billion kWh in 2030, though in the short term it is depressed and is not expected to recover to the 2007 level until about 2015. Annual per capita electricity consumption is currently around 12,300 kWh. Total capacity is 1041 GWe, less than one tenth of which is nuclear.

First let's look at some numbers from the USA:

2009 daily statistics....18,690,000 bbl/day of oil consumed and this is the most recent statistic that can be confirmed as agreed upon by the National Energy Board. Imagine the numbers for 2010-2012 as we have increased volumes of vehicles on the roads each year. 

most recent statistics....1,060,000,000 short tons of coal used yearly for heat and power generation.

The USA has 104 nuclear power reactors in 31 states, operated by 30 different power companies. Since 2001 these plants have achieved an average capacity factor of over 90%, generating up to 807 billion kWh per year and accounting for 20% of total electricity generated. Capacity factor has risen from 50% in the early 1970s, to 70% in 1991, and it passed 90% in 2002.

Solar energy actually dropped production from 1998 (almost 11 million VDC) to 2009 (about 7.5 million VDC) Many argue that Solar power will never equate much more than a secondary or supplement source, however that argument is lead by the oils and coal industries. We have already seen proof from other Nations that Solar power can become not just a supplement source, but a mainstay production of energy not only in individual or isolated usage, but for municipal and National applications. All across Europe, in areas of Africa, and in Australia, Solar power is a principal source of power.

The United States’ wind power capacity reached 47,000 MW by the end of 2011. Although growing by an estimated 16% yearly in production, wind energy still only accounts for less than 2% of US Power production.

Produced hydroelectricity was 282 TWh (2008).
 66.8% of the total renewable power in the U.S. in 2008. 6.4% of the nation's total electricity production. The potential for hydroelectric growth in the US is amazingly underdeveloped due to both government and corporate arguments as well as environmental issues. However, before Nuclear energy, the USA used hydro-electrical energy as almost 40% of its National power production.  It is the most widely used form of renewable energy, accounting for 16 percent of global electricity consumption, and 3,427 terawatt-hours of electricity production in 2010, which continues the rapid rate of increase experienced between 2003 and 2009.

     Now, I know I have not included geothermal power, Natural gas power and a few other ongoing and developing resources for electrical production, and that is mainly due to lack of verifiable facts or information to apply it to a National level. Yet we are seeing the mainstay of Hydro, Wind and Solar potentials and growth of not only production, but as replacement over the 'traditional' energy or power sources. (Much to the dismay of energy companies who are still trying to delay if not destroy green energy growth and applications) As a Nation of growing concerned citizens about such issues over preservation of Natural resources and environmental preservation, we need to be better informed about these growing 'green energy' possibilities and potentials.

Now look at this chart and information...from Germany:

In 2010 the gross electric power generation in Germany totalled 621 billion kWh. A major proportion of the electricity supply is based on lignite (23.7 %), nuclear energy (22.6 %) and hard coal (18.7 %). Natural gas has a share of 13.6 %. Renewables (wind, water, biomass, photovoötaic) account for 16.5 %.
Electricity production by energy sources
Electricity production by energy sources, Germany 2010

Now look at the growth of energy production and energy sources in Australia:

Or how about Spain....:

Even France is showing a growth out of it's Nuclear and toward renewable (albeit slowly)...
Would you like to see the charts of American Power production by source?.....
So maybe you wonder what my point is..
As a Nation, we are the foremost consumers of Fossil Fuels worldwide, and the last place runners in renewable energy source development. We even began reduction of hydro-electrical energy production in favor of Nuclear and Natural Gas power plants. 
Even our consumption of oil in transportation is decades behind other countries as far as railways, commuter bus lines, and fuel economic vehicles are concerned. We are not only loosing the race to new and renewable power sources, we are running out of time to not only stop the needless pollution  for our energy needs, but save what is left of our delicate balance of wilderness/wildlife and  life on this planet.
It is not about the economics sustainability... it is now about the environment survivability.

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