The Life Blood of Civilization
Energy is the lifeblood of ALL civilized society! This unarguable truth is the underlying premise brought to light by Mark Mathis’in the movie “SpOILed” which premiered in Billings, Montana on Friday, March 30th. Energy (predominantly oil) is a factor of production, that is embedded in virtually every aspect of modern America where we as consumers do what we do best – CONSUME ! The demand for energy, in the form of hydro carbon based sources (oil, natural gas and coal) has fueled the development of our industrialized global society. Hydro carbon based energy sources have fueled our past, are the bedrock of our present, and based on our current trajectory, are an integral part of our future for decades to come.
With the rapid industrialization and expanding populations of emerging nations like China and India, the world is now experiencing its greatest ever need for coal, oil and natural gas. All of this places an increasing burden not only on on global energy resources but on the environment as well. In a May 2009 report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), a governmental source providing official energy statistics, the total world consumption of marketed energy will increase by 44% over the 25 year period evaluated (2006 to 2030).
China and India will most likely continue to be the fastest-growing global economies based on their burgeoning populations. As a result, they will be the largest consumers of energy for several generations. Since 1990, energy consumption as a share of total world energy use has increased significantly in both countries. In 1990, China and India together accounted for about 10% of the world’s total energy consumption. By 2006 their combined share was 19%. With continued robust economic growth, their combined energy consumption is projected to grow to 28% of the world’s energy consumption in 2030. In contrast, the United States’ share of total world energy consumption will drop from 21% (2006) to @ 17% by 2030, according to the EIA.
While the US is often viewed as the BIG PIG when it comes to energy consumption, robust growth in Asia will increase its energy demand by 104% from 2006 to 2030. Part of this increased demand will be met by China through its ten year energy development plan which includes the construction of a new coal fired power plant every week. In reality the nation has little choice as it continues in its quest to satisfy the demand for energy as a direct result of its population urbanization and societal industrialization. Other global regions projected to substantially increase their industrial capacities and thereby their demand for energy include the Middle East, Central and South America (by 60%) and Africa (by 50%).
Although oil is and will continue to be the predominate fuel, natural gas will come to play a more significant role in the generation of electricity worldwide. This energy source is more efficient, cost effective and emits less carbon in the consumption cycle than other fossil fuels. The EIA sees total natural gas consumption increasing by an average of 1.6% per year which will mean growing from a usage total 104 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 153 trillion cubic feet in 2030. This increase will be further fueled by continued up swing in world oil prices. To bring this all a little closer to home here in Billings, MT….It’s estimated that 20 new power generation plants fueled by natural gas, are slated to be built in eastern Montana and eastern North Dakota over the next few years. these plants will be powered by the natural gas currently being burned off on Bakken wells in the Williston Basin area.
According to the EIA, the combination of natural gas and coal account for just over 60% of total world electricity generation. These two fuel sources will continue to be the world’s most important components of electrical generation with an increase to 64% of global supply by the year 2030, according to the EIA. While Asia and parts of Europe have substantial coal reserves (primarily in Mongolia and Russia), there is a general lack of infrastructure to support the harvest of these vast natural resources. Thus China and Japan are beginning to turn the power of their purse strings towards coal sourced from Montana and Wyoming with a tremendous willingness to pay premium prices for this Treasure State fuel source.