What is energy?
The energy is defined as … See Definitions.
Why do we need energy?
Energy is one of the main drivers of an economy. Energy is used to produce heat to warm up houses and offices during the winter time. It is also used to create electricity to cool down houses and offices during the summer time. The entire modern transportation system depends on reliable energy. Electricity powers trains and subways; while petrol, diesel and natural gas power air planes, cars, motorcycles and busses. The entire modern manufacturing system rely on reliable energy. Modern farms are mechanized and use diesel to power tractors and other machines. The whole modern life and comfort, as we know it and are accustom to, will not be possible without availability of affordable and reliable energy. We cannot possibly list here everything that energy is used for. But as can be seen with the few examples above, energy is crucial to modern life.
The global population continues to grow and this trend will continue in the foreseeable future. This population growth leads to continue growth in energy demand. Therefore, the supply of energy needs to continuously grow to meet this demand.
The main types of energy are carbon based (fossil energy). Scientists are increasingly arguing that carbon dioxide emission generated from fossil energy is the cause of global warming. Therefore several countries and companies are aiming to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and thus reducing their carbon footprint.
What are the types of energy?
The main fossil energy types addressed by this website are:
The other types of energy addressed by this website are:
What is the future of energy?
The chart below shows the current energy demand and the growth as predicted by ExxonMobil for various energy types.
What are the challenges of the energy industry?
Fossil energies such as Oil & Gas and Coal represent the most used types of energies worldwide. In Oil & Gas, major companies are increasingly finding it difficult to replace their reserves. The cost of finding new reserves and fields is increasing. New technologies, such as horizontal drilling and enhanced oil recovery (EOR), are helping to alleviate this challenge.
The global warning concerns have led to some individuals, countries, municipalities and companies wanting to switch to renewable energy types such as solar, biomass, hydroelectricity and wind energy. Renewable energies are still in most cases more expensive to produce and to transport than fossil energy types. Therefore, renewable energy still represents a small portion of the total global energy supply and consumption. This relatively small percentage is forecasted to continuously grow.
Nuclear energy is cleaner than fossil energies. However, nuclear reactors have been involved in major accidents in the past. Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident in April 1986 caused radiations that were felt as far away as Western Europe for few years. More recently in March 2011 in Japan, a tsunami caused a disastrous leak at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The failure occurred when the plant was hit by a tsunami that had been triggered by a huge earthquake in the ocean. Furthermore, nuclear waste generated in nuclear power plants continues to radiate over a long period of time and have to be confined in appropriate disposal facilities. These accidents and near missies involving nuclear power plants and nuclear waste disposal issues have led to a reluctance to build new nuclear reactors and even led to Germany’s decision to phase out its nuclear power plants.
Renewable energies have increasingly become the preferred energy types of some individuals, communities, companies and politicians. However, they still represent a small portion of energy supply and consumption. It is more expensive to generate and transport most renewable energies than other type of energies. Therefore, renewable energy supplies cannot currently meet the entire energy demands of cities, companies and transportation systems. Renewable energy is still is most cases more expensive for consumers than fossil or nuclear energy types. Renewable energy use is forecasted to increase overtime. However, this increase will not be sufficient to entirely displace fossil and nuclear energies in the foreseeable future.
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