A recent material society meeting was a real eye opener. Dr. Ripudaman Malhotra, energy scientist at SRI International, and co-author of the above titled book, presented a fascinating lecture regarding our energy future.
Energy is measured in so many ways that it is difficult to evaluate actual demand and consumption. We have Btu, tons of coal, barrels of oil, and KWh, mostly measured in kilo, mega and giga-huge terms. A new measurement was needed that could be visualized.
Current world use of Oil is about 1 Cubic Mile in volume. If we compare other energy sources, in equivalents of cubic miles of oil (CMO), we have a current world consumption of about 3 CMO primarily from Oil, Coal and Natural Gas. By comparison, current Solar and Wind renewables contribute a miniscule 0.03%.
At the rate of world growth, there will be a demand for between 6 and 9 CMO in 50 years. There is currently plenty of fossil fuels remaining but they are from less conventional sources (shale, tar sands) and will be needed while we switch to new sources. A huge task!
Producing 1 CMO/ year from alternate technologies will require:
Hydroelectric: 200 dams – 4 per year for 50 years
Nuclear: 2,500 plants – 1 a week for 50 years
Windmills: 3 million – 1,200 a week for 50 years
Solar CSP 7,700 solar plants – 3 a week for 50 years
Solar roofs 4.2 billion – 250,000 roofs a day for 50 years.
The good news: The sun offers 23,000 CMO/year as heat, wind, photovoltaic and biomass. The raw material is available. It is time to go to work.
I would like to thank Dr. Ripudaman Malhotra for the use of this data from an extremely interesting lecture.
I recommend the book, A Cubic Mile of Oil: Realities and Options for Averting the Looming Global Energy Crisis by Crane, Kinderman and Malhotra.
As always, your comments and questions are welcomed.