China and Coal
China has worked hard to develop alternative sources of energy. They were picked to lead in solar installations this year before Wen Ji Bao announced in March that they were not going to blindly throw renewables up everywhere at random. Nobody really knows what the ramifications of that statement are as of yet.
China has put in place the infrastructure to supply the world with wind turbines and solar panels. It leads the world in building dams for hydroelectric power. They don’t seem to be doing too much in the realm of biofuels, from what I’ve read, but are eagerly looking for frackable gas supplies–and have found some big deposits.
But for all that, it’s coal, folks. China depends on coal today. China will depend on coal in 2030. Bearing in mind my projection that China will be using 247 quads in 2030 (as opposed to 100 last year), this chart is sobering:
If my total of 247 quads is correct, that would indicate 185 quads of coal alone. That compares to 56 quads China got from coal in 2010. That is more than the 156 quads the world got from coal in 2010.
And I was going to start this post off with the cheerful news that in the U.S., coal consumption dropped by 5% last year, to under 20 quads. Oh, well.
3000 Quads is about energy for the 21st century. The world’s population is now estimated to peak at between 9 and 10 billion people somewhere around 2075. If they use energy at the same rate as the average American, they will consume 3,000 quadrillion btus. That isn’t written in stone–the Danes use half as much energy per person as Americans and they have a pretty good life. The developing world could aim for a Danish lifestyle instead of Yankee over-exuberance. But if it comes to pass, then we face a dilemma. If most of that energy is provided by burning coal, we face something close to disaster. My name is Tom Fuller. I work at a solar power company called Sungevity, a premiere provider of solar power to homeowners in the United States.
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