chapter  9
34 Pages

The Energy Crisis

The global consumption of power (energy consumed per year) in 2008 was 473 × 1018 joules or 448 × 1015 British thermal units (Btu). This is equivalent to over 15 terawatts, 15 × 1012 TWs-1 (a Watt is equivalent to 1 joule per second). By 2013 consumption is expected to exceed 570 × 1018 joules per year (or 540 × 1015 Btu per year) at a rate of 18 terawatts. Consumption is greatest in the United States (3.13 terawatts), but demand is also high from China (2.47 terawatts) and the EU (2.32 terawatts). Over the next 20 years, the demand for energy is expected to increase by 19% in developed nations and by a staggering 84% in developing nations, with China and India alone responsible for over 56% of demand in 2050 (Figure 9.3 and Figure 9.4). Over the past 15 years, China's gross domestic product (GDP) has risen by over 300%, and India's has risen by 140%; most of this growth has been powered by fossil fuels. During this time, greenhouse gas emissions have increased by over 50% and placed a heavy demand on fuel, power, and mineral resources worldwide (Figure 9.5).