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Putting Global Energy Reserves into Relative Perspective

Energy Investment: Where should humanity be investing their time, money and energy?

Richard Perez produced this graphic snapshot of energy resources in 2009 (download the .pdf) for the International Energy Agency. The graphic compares planetary reserves expressed in terms of Terawatt years. Also worth noting is the amount of energy being consumed at the time, which was approximately 16 TW of energy per year.

Energy reserves chart

Global Energy Resource chart

Fairly enlightening for many people is that just the solar resource alone is orders of magnitude larger than all the others combined. Perhaps a new solar centric perspective when thinking about energy options makes sense considering that all energy sources on the planet are/were ultimately sourced from the sun as well.

Source: Terawatt years
Solar: 23,000
Coal: 900
Uranium: 90-300
Petroleum: 240
Natural Gas: 215
Wind: 25-70
OTEC: 3-11
Biomass: 2-6
Hydro: 3-4
Geothermal .3-2
Waves: .2-2
Tides: .3

World energy consumption is projected to grow by 56 percent between 2010 and 2040 according to International Energy Outlook 2013 (IEO2013) project which is produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA eia.gov).

With world energy consumption increasing at an increasing rate obviously additional energy sources beyond the current means of production will be required to meet demand.

The informative chart from Richard Perez doesn’t include any new important options like Thorium / LFTR Nuclear Reactors, which can be brought online at a fraction of the cost and risk relative to nuclear plants that were designed to create power and nuclear weapons. The Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA), a Thorium educational and advocacy organization, states that there is enough thorium in the United States alone to power the country at its current energy level of energy consumption for over 10,000 years.

Also beyond the scope of the energy resource chart are the economic and environmental advantages of using decentralized energy sources, which give a clear advantage to solar or wind energy being produced on the very rooftops where it will be used.

Currently in many places in the world individuals and families are getting to actively participate in the Energy Market by owning their own energy power plants (solar, wind and geothermal). In theory almost anyone could be in the energy business, excess energy they are not using could be stored in the batteries of their EVs or their home UPS system (which can be made from used EV batteries as demonstrated by GM and ABB).  Any captured energy can be later sold or used perhaps during peak or expensive grid usage times.

2012 Renewabe Energy Data Book

Renewable Energy Data Book

Some other important renewable energy facts and trends that have not been overly reported or deemed the most  newsworthy by the media are published in the Renewable Energy Data Book which is produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (download a .pdf document of their findings).

  • Global Renewable Energy capacity doubled between 2000 and 2012.
  • Wind electricity generation worldwide during that time period increased by a factor of nearly 16 in the USA and wind generation increased even more by a factor of 25.
  • By the end of 2012 the USA had 163 gigawatts (GW) of installed renewable electricity capacity, which represents about 12% of total electric generation. In 2012 Renewable electricity accounted for the majority (more than 56%) of all new electrical capacity installations in the United States.
  • Wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) in the USA were two of the fastest growing electric generation technologies.  Installed wind electric power generation increased by nearly 28% and cumulative installed solar photovoltaic capacity grew more than 83% from the previous year.
  • The United States has become the world’s leading ethanol producer since 2006 and has increased their corn ethanol production by a factor of 8 since the year 2000.


Green-Eco-EV News Reporting by Ken Green Burridge

kenneth green burridge

Kenneth Burridge test-drives electric Nissan LEAF in Melbourne Australia

EV of the Year Judge, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last seven years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+Linked in or website