Energy Mix: Converging Energy Sources to Meet Long-term Societal Requirements

In order to support our modern society in an ever-growing global population, energy supplies must converge to meet that growing demand.

This article is intended neither to pound a pulpit nor to suggest “transition” – which is now often misconstrued to mean phase out and replace – but to present about combined contributions and diversification of sources.

Thriving societies usually do so because they are able to harness readily available and economically viable energy. For instance, research and development advancements in wind, tidal, solar, nuclear and geothermal generation would not be possible without the economic benefits provided by the strong scientific ingenuity stemming from decades of R&D in the oil and gas sector in the United States and other countries.

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In order to support our modern society in an ever-growing global population, energy supplies must converge to meet that growing demand.

This article is intended neither to pound a pulpit nor to suggest “transition” – which is now often misconstrued to mean phase out and replace – but to present about combined contributions and diversification of sources.

Thriving societies usually do so because they are able to harness readily available and economically viable energy. For instance, research and development advancements in wind, tidal, solar, nuclear and geothermal generation would not be possible without the economic benefits provided by the strong scientific ingenuity stemming from decades of R&D in the oil and gas sector in the United States and other countries.

The graph included here, from the energy industry research and analysis firm Enerdata, shows the breakdown of energy mix between 1990 and 2018.

What I find notable is that an acceleration in energy consumption in 2018 (2.3 percent) was driven by high growth in electricity and gas demand. Also noteworthy is the sizable slice in the biomass and coal categories as shown on the ring diagram on the right-hand side of the graph.

According to Enerdata, rising demand in China has made it the world’s largest energy consumer since 2009. Consuming 3,164 millions of tonnes of oil equivalent in 2018, up 3.7 percent, they are followed by the United States with 2,258 Mtoe, up 3.5 percent. Overall, the European Union showed a minor drop of 1 percent, with Germany leading the charge at a 3.5 percent decrease in power consumption, (no pun intended).

Personally, seeing a graph like this raises a flag. We will not reduce energy usage in a thriving modern world where other nations also (and rightfully) wish to improve their lot. We can only supplement the requirements by making a concerted effort to converge and harness all ingeniously devised and socio-economically accessible sources.

Where can the AAPG and Division of Environmental Geosciences fit in all of this?

Well, for starters it looks like the electric vehicle industry has a game plan to be at the table with internal combustion-powered vehicles. Ford’s announcement of the Mustang Mach-E contender indicates that more affordable competition is on the horizon for Tesla and others. That points to a need for significant dependable domestic supply of key elements necessary for battery storage advancements in North American. It further suggests that an additional amount of manufacturing-related C02 emissions are on the horizon.

We as the DEG have already indicated that carbon capture, utilization and storage is a subject matter target for the Division. I would further venture to say that the idea of convergence can also be applied to working with other AAPG divisions such as the Energy Minerals Division, for example, in order to use the intellectual capacity of young and old professionals to find better or additional sources of all that will be required to continue to fuel the overall energy mix that an ever-growing global population within a vibrant modern society needs.

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