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8.Insufficiency of Energy Resources

TOP > Environmental Activities > The President's Green Column >
8.Insufficiency of Energy Resources

The President's Green Column

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8.Insufficiency of Energy Resources

In my previous entry, I wrote about the Insufficiency of Food. This time turn, I wrote about the Insufficiency of Food. This time turn, I would like to write about the Insufficiency of Energy Resources.

Facts taken from 'BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2008

How much energy are we consuming?

Using oil as the common unit, we used 111billion tons of energy just in 2007.
Energy usage in 2007 is 1.25times of that of 1997, increasing by 2.2% per year.
However, from 2002 to 2007, usage of energy grew by 3.1% every year.
Amongst oil, natural gases, atomic nuclear power, waterpower and coal, the usage of coal increased the most. It has increased by 4.67% from 2006 to 2007.
Growth of oil usage is low, increased by 1.07% from 2006 to 2007.
While oil tops the energy consumption at 35.61%, coal comes second at 28.63%.

How much energy are we left with?

The below shows amount energy reserves we are left with


However, it is important to note that the reserves to production ratio has instead of decreasing, been increasing. In 1930, the reserves of oil were said to last for another 18 years. In 1960, it was said to be 30 years and in 1990, said to be 45 years. This is because as consumption increases, we tend to discover more reserves. Hence, it is not necessary true that energy resource with low reserves to production ratio would be used up soon. Despite so, the rapidly growing demand for coal has caused the reserves to production ratio of coal to decrease rapidly (According to BP facts: 2004: 192 years, 2006: 155 years, and 2008: 133 years).

Although proved reserves might increase, energy resources that can be acquired cheaply and easily as before are definitely decreasing. Despite increment of reserves to production ratio, I think that it would become more and more difficult to acquire energy resources cheaply as before in the long run.

Soaring prices of Energy Resources

Prices of energy resources have been increasing rapidly since 2000. The price crude oil over 140 years can be found in the graph below. The dark green line shows the actual pricing then and the light green line refers to the pricing converted to current value. While 1 barrel costs less than 20 dollars in the 1990s, it costs more than 100 dollar in 2008.
Growing global demand for energy, anxiety and speculation due to instability of global politics are the causes for such a situation.

It is highly unlikely that the pricing of fossil fuels would return to that like it is in the 1990s.

While people in developed countries worry about the increase of gasoline prices, the increase of crude oil pricing not only directly affects pricing of fuels such as gasoline but also influence the production using energy. For example, the inflation of food prices that jeopardize the lives of poor people in developing countries and this requires immediate attention in a long-term basis.

Energy resources such as oil are essential for the survival of humans. However, if we were to continue usage of energy from fossil fuels at the current rate, it is inevitable that these resources would become more rare and more expensive. Although it is absolutely important to minimize emission of CO2, it is essential that we would have to think of what we can do about this situation of soaring prices.

Atomic nuclear power has been gaining attention as the solution to insufficient energy resources and emission of CO2. In my next entry, I would like to write about the usage and disposal of radioactive materials.

15 Oct 2008 Hironobu Matsui

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