Energy Today and Tomorrow

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  • Oil Demand Growth
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The problem of energy reserves exhaustion has been disturbing people’s mind for long. The greatest scientists of XIX century William Thompson warned about insecurity of British energy sector and the impending disaster back in 1881. His fears were, however, not about oil but coal used as a fuel for so-called «steam engine era», as it provided industrial superiority of Great Britain over other countries. Thompson warned that the days of Britain’s greatness could be considered as «underground coal reserves … are rapidly depleting». His only hope was with «wide use of windmills and wind engines of any kind».

However, for many years after these predictions, hydrocarbon resource base including coal, oil and natural gas is still expanding. Energy resources on the planet are much bigger than it was expected. Today, oil production has increased five times compared with 1957, moreover, a solid foundation for the use of renewable energy has been made. Oil, coal and natural gas provide more than 80% of all produced energy in the world.

Billions of people today become a part of the global economy and their income and power consumption are rapidly growing. At present, oil consumption in developed countries averages 14 barrels per person per year. In the developing world, this figure is three barrels per person.

In this century climate change has become one of the key factors for future energy. The problem of greenhouse gases put an end to the domination of fossil hydrocarbons, at least in the public mind, and brought to the forefront the use of renewable sources of energy. However, according to the most forecasts, the main part of the world’s growing energy demand over the next two decades (75-80 %) will be satisfied exactly the same way as today, i.e. the use of oil, coal and gas, although they will be used more efficiently.

Anyhow this world will enter the new energy era, i. e. will move to radically different, renewable and alternative sources of energy.

If the transition to the new energy era ever occurs, then the global energy market of $6 trillion should become a “field of competitive struggle”. In other words, the battle for a slice of pie will inflame not only among existing players – large oil, gas and coal companies, which nowadays provide major amounts of energy – but also between the latter and new market participants, producing energy by using wind, solar and biofuels, who wants to get its share of energy profit. The transition of such scale, if it occurs, will be of great importance for ecology and economy to geopolitics and position of nations in the world.