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Research Papers

Evolution of the Transition to a World Driven by Renewable Energy

[+] Author and Article Information
Brian M. Fronk, Richard Neal

Sustainable Thermal Systems Laboratory, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0405

Srinivas Garimella

Sustainable Thermal Systems Laboratory, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0405srinivas.garimella@me.gatech.edu

J. Energy Resour. Technol 132(2), 021009 (Jun 11, 2010) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4001574 History: Received March 13, 2009; Revised April 05, 2010; Published June 11, 2010; Online June 11, 2010

The world’s energy supplies will continue to be pressured as the population grows and the standard of living rises in the developing world. A move by the rest of the world toward energy consumption rates on par with the United States is most probably unsustainable. An examination of population trends, current energy utilization rates, and estimated reserves shows that a major worldwide transition to renewable resources is necessary in the next 100 years. This paper examines one possible scenario of how energy usage and renewable power generation must evolve during this time period. As the global standard of living increases, energy consumption in developing nations will begin to approach that of the developed world. A combination of energy conservation and efficiency improvements in developed nations will be needed to push the worldwide energy consumption to approximately 200 million Btu per person per year. Fossil fuel resources will be exhausted or become prohibitively expensive, necessitating the development of renewable energy resources. At this projected steady state population and energy consumption, the required contribution of each type of renewable resource can be calculated. Comparing these numbers to the current renewable capacities illustrates the enormous effort that must be made in the next century.

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Copyright © 2010 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

UN population projections (2)

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Figure 2

EIA worldwide projected primary energy use per capita through 2030 (3)

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Figure 3

Long range projected primary energy use per capita through 2300

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Figure 4

Long range projected primary energy by region through 2300

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Figure 5

2008 global energy portfolio

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Figure 6

Nonrenewable contribution to global energy demand

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Figure 7

Energy demand projection and nonrenewable supply

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Figure 8

Renewable contribution to global energy portfolio

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Figure 9

Total projected world energy use: the transition to a renewable portfolio

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