The world’s population is getting bigger and richer. Our reliance on technology has also grown and will continue to grow. We need to generate more and more electricity every year to keep up with the demand and make sure everyone has the opportunity to keep their lights on.
In 1973 the world used the equivalent energy of 6.1 billion tonnes of oil and 5.3 billion tonnes of this was generated by methods which add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. By 2015 the amount of energy used had more than doubled to 13.6 billion tonnes, with 11.1 billion tonnes contributing greenhouse gases.
In 2017 global energy use increased by 2.2 %, higher than the average growth for the previous decade of 1.7 %. Of this increased production of electricity, 49 % of it came from renewable energy (like wind, solar, or hydroelectric) but 44 % came from burning coal. As a consequence the resulting greenhouse gases also increased by 1.6 % in 2017.
Energy use is set to increase by a further 56 % from 2010 levels by 2040 but how much of that will come from renewable sources is not known.
So what can we do?
We can try and reduce our energy usage by making simple changes. Things like turning devices off instead of leaving them on stand by, or turning the thermostat down slightly on your heating so it doesn’t come on as much.
Going forward we need to make sure that more of our energy comes from renewables, not just to cover the increased growth but also to replace current methods of production. As traditional fossil fuels become less abundant their costs will increase, and we will work to make renewable energy more efficient and less expensive.
Next level – Plastics