World energy demand may increase by 50% by 2030 with the majority of that energy still obtained from fossil fuels. Global population set to reach nine billion by 2050 and more people demanding greater energy. Greater energy efficiency measures, switching to alternative sources of renewable energy, developing and promoting cleaner technologies for fossil fuel use will all be necessary to avoid catastrophic global climate change.
Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal account for 55% of the world’s energy supply. They are the primary source of all the power generated due to their affordability and high energy content. Unfortunately, they are non-renewable as they took millions of years to form and have been sequestered out of the carbon cycle. Their combustion emits carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, causing global warming.
It was estimated by the Energy Information Administration that between 2005 – 2030, 86% of primary energy production in the world will come from burning fossil fuels, with China and India accounting for 45% of coal consumption. The need will grow by 55% with developing countries taking up 74% of the increase; China and India being 80% accountable for this increase.
The burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. Natural processes can only absorb about half of that amount, so there is a net annual increase of 10.65 billion tones of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The production and use of fossil fuels raise environmental concerns.
A global movement toward the generation of renewable energy is therefore under way to help meet increased energy needs, while reducing global warming effects.
Besides the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels, the economic impact of nonrenewable resources can also be very damaging. Cost of fossil fuels are influenced by several factors such as supply and demand, depleting oil resources, political crisis/sensitivity and manipulation in oil-related financial products.
Fossil fuels currently provide more than 85% of all the energy consumed in the United States
China is the world’s largest consumer of coal, followed by the US. According to statistics from the China National Development and Reform Committee, in 2005, 69% of the country’s primary energy consumption comes from coal. There are more than 30,000 coal mines in the country, most are small mines producing a third of the country’s coal. They, in general, operate at low efficiency with low safety regulations. Methane from coal mine is the primary cause of accidents in coal mines. In 2008, there were 413 700 accidents, while death toll was 91,172 as disclosed by the China’s State Administration of Work Safety (Chinadaily.com.cn – /2009-02/02)
Together, with the need for Annex I countries to meet legal binding targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, these pose critical urgency to power switching to renewable and ever-lasting energies.
A wide range of energy-supply mitigation are available and cost effective comparative to conventional fossil fuel energy production. The problem is usually the problem of financing. Through the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol, new energy efficiency investments in developing countries and capacity upgrade in developed countries open vast opportunities for mutual benefits in their commitments to lower GHG emissions.
The battle for energy will be won by those that have the foresight to wait no more. They will ultimately benefit from the new energy mechanism while engaging to protect the global climate.