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Fossil Fuels and Global Electrification

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity, let alone safe electricity.

The picture shows how some residents in Hyderabad, India get their electricity. This visually confirms the demand for electricity by people in less developed countries, and guarantees that electricity consumption will increase rapidly in the developing world. Energy use in non-OECD countries will increase by 90 percent from 2010 to 2040; in OECD countries, the increase is 17 percent according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Global fossil energy, especially coal, consumption will inevitably climb even though renewable and nuclear are projected to grow at faster rates.

EIA projects that global renewable and nuclear energy will grow 2.5 percent per year between 2010 and 2040, and represent 22 percent of global consumption in 2040. Coal consumption will grow from about 150 quadrillion BTu in 2010 to over 225 quadrillion BTu in 2040.

In 2009 the number of people without access to electricity was 1.3 billion or almost 20% of the world’s population. These people reside primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. China delivers electricity to a significantly higher portion of its populations (over 90 percent) than sub-Saharan Africa (30.5 percent have electricity) and South Asia (68.5 percent have electricity) according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) 2011 World Energy Outlook. IEA also notes that recent increases in access to electricity are primarily due to increased urbanization, not the expansion of the grid into rural areas–again, note the picture.

I leave you to wonder how a 30 percent reduction in emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants will affect global emissions.

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