Growth Rates of Global Energy Systems and Future Outlooks
- 947 Downloads
The world is interconnected and powered by a number of global energy systems using fossil, nuclear, or renewable energy. This study reviews historical time series of energy production and growth for various energy sources. It compiles a theoretical and empirical foundation for understanding the behaviour underlying global energy systems’ growth. The most extreme growth rates are found in fossil fuels. The presence of scaling behaviour, i.e. proportionality between growth rate and size, is established. The findings are used to investigate the consistency of several long-range scenarios expecting rapid growth for future energy systems. The validity of such projections is questioned, based on past experience. Finally, it is found that even if new energy systems undergo a rapid ‘oil boom’-development—i.e. they mimic the most extreme historical events—their contribution to global energy supply by 2050 will be marginal.
Keywordsglobal energy systems growth rates energy forecasting scenarios long-term forecasting evaluating forecasts
This study has been supported by the STandUP for energy collaboration initiative. We would like to thank Sergey Yachenkov at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow for constructive discussions. Professor Al Bartlett has our appreciation for being an important source of inspiration.
- Al-Malood, A. M. (2004). Field manager of the Bab field in Abu-Dhabi, personal communication.Google Scholar
- Amaral, L. A. N., Buldyrev, S. V., Havlin, S., Leschhorn, H., Maass, P., Salinger, M. A., et al. (1997). Scaling behavior in economics: I. Empirical results for company growth. Journal de physique, 7(4), 621–633.Google Scholar
- Bartlett, A. A. (2004). The essential exponential! For the future of our planet. Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.Google Scholar
- BP. (2010). BP statistical review of world energy 2010. http://www.bp.com. Accessed April 19, 2011.
- Buldyrev, S. V., Amaral, L. A. N., Havlin, S., Leschhorn, H., Maass, P., Salinger, M. A., et al. (1997). Scaling behavior in economics: II. Modeling of company growth. Journal de Physique, 7(4), 635–650.Google Scholar
- Campbell, C., & Laherrere, J. (1998, March). The end of cheap oil. Scientific American.Google Scholar
- Cotrell, W. F. (1955). Energy and society: The relation between energy, social change, and economic development. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Green, M. B. (1978). Eating oil: Energy use in food production. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Höök, M. (2010). Coal and oil: The dark monarchs of global energy: understanding supply and extraction patterns and their importance for future production. Doctoral thesis from Uppsala University. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-129295. Accessed April 12, 2011.
- Hubbert, M. K. (1956). Nuclear energy and the fossil fuels. Presented before the Spring Meeting of the Southern District, American Petroleum Institute, Plaza Hotel, San Antonio, Texas, March 7–9, http://www.hubbertpeak.com/Hubbert/1956/1956.pdf. Accessed April 19, 2011.
- Hubbert, M. K. (1974). The nature of growth. Testimony to Hearing on the National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1974, hearings before the Subcommittee on the Environment of the committee on Interior and Insular Affairs House of Representatives, June 6, 1974, http://www.energybulletin.net/node/3845. Accessed April 19, 2011.
- Hubbert, M. K. (1982). Response to David Nissens remarks. http://www.hubbertpeak.com/Hubbert/to_nissen.htm. Accessed April 19, 2011.
- IEA. (2007). Renewables in global energy supply—an IEA fact sheet. http://www.iea.org/textbase/papers/2006/renewable_factsheet.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- IEA. (2008). World energy outlook 2008. http://www.worldenergyoutlook.com. Accessed April 19, 2011.
- IEA. (2010). Statistics and balances. http://www.iea.org/Textbase/stats/index.asp. Accessed April 19, 2011.
- Ion, D. C. (1975). Availability of World Energy Resources. London: Graham & Trotman Ltd.Google Scholar
- Jenkins, G. (1989). Oil economists’ handbook. London: Taylor & Francis Group. 484.Google Scholar
- Jevons, W. S. (1866). The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of Our Coal-Mines. London: Macmillan and Company.Google Scholar
- Malthus, T. (1798). An essay on the principle of population or a view of its past and present effects on human happiness; with an inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the evils which it occasions. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
- Meadows, D. H., Meadows, D. L., Randers, J., & Behrens, W. (1972). The limits to growth. New York: Universe Books. 205.Google Scholar
- Milne, B. T., Gupta, V. K., & Restrepo, C. (2002). A scale invariant coupling of plants, water, energy, and terrain. Ecoscience, 9(2), 191–199.Google Scholar
- Mitchell, B. (2003). International historical statistics 1750–2000. London: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
- Odum, H. T. (1971). Environment, power and society. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Pfieffer, D. A. (2006). Eating fossil fuels: Oil food and the coming crisis in agriculture. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers.Google Scholar
- Prieto, P. (2008). Solar + wind in Spain/World. Closing the growing gap? Presentation held at the international ASPO 7 conference, World Trade Center, Barcelona, October 20–21, 2008. http://www.aspo-spain.org/aspo7/presentations/Prieto-SolarWind-ASPO7.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- RFE. (2010). 2010 Ethanol industry outlook—climate of opportunity. Report from Renewable Fuels Association. http://foodnfuel.3cdn.net/32b7ed69bd366321cb_r1m626lb0.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- Schlesinger, J., & Hirsch, R. L. (2009). Getting real on wind and solar. Washington Post, published on April 24, 2009. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/23/AR2009042303809.html. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- Shell. (2008). Shell energy scenarios to 2050. http://www.shell.com/scenarios/. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- Spreng, D. T. (1988). Net energy analysis and the energy requirements of energy systems. New York: Praeger Press.Google Scholar
- SRES. (2000). IPCC special report on emission scenarios. http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_sr/?src=/climate/ipcc/emission/. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- Stern, D. I., & Cleveland, C. J. (2004). Energy and economic growth. Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics, Number 0410, 1-42, http://www.economics.rpi.edu/workingpapers/rpi0410.pdf. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- UKERC. (2009). Global oil depletion: An assessment of the evidence for a near-term peak in global oil production. London: UK Energy Research Centre. http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/Global%20Oil%20Depletion.
- Verne, J. (1864). A journey to the centre of the earth. New York: Signet Classic.Google Scholar
- WETO. (2006). World energy technology outlook 2050. http://www.globalbioenergy.org/. Accessed April 18, 2011.
- World Wind Energy Association. (2010). World wind energy report 2009. http://www.wwindea.org/. Accessed April 18, 2011.