The Problem

The Upcoming Energy Crisis

The next generations will face an unprecedented crisis for energy, including the food that we eat, the fuel that moves us around and the electricity that powers our lights and appliances.  It may not affect you in your lifetime, but it will likely affect your kids or their kids.  Consider these facts:

 

Our Population is Growing

Every day, we add more people to the planet who require more energy. Currently, there are 7 billion people on Earth and it is forecasted to reach 10 billion people by 2050. Not only does each person require more energy, but each takes a physical space on Earth (for home or work) that reduces land that can be used for harnessing energy in different forms (farms, solar panels, windmills, etc).

Population and declining natural resources

Fossil Fuels Will Run Out Soon

It’s not a question of if, but when. When will fossil fuels, our primary sources of energy, be depleted? They have been stored for millions of years on Earth, and we’ve managed to burn through them in a little more than a century driving cars and using electronics.

Most studies, including the CIA World Factbook, conclude that oil and natural gas will be depleted well before the end of this century. Coal, on the other hand, has been predicted to last as long as a few hundred years from now. However, the team at Ecotricity ran a forecast of the consumption of coal after oil and gas run out, and with increased consumption of coal to make up for the difference, it is possible that even coal could be depleted by the end of the century.

Rapid decline of fossil fuelsSource: Ecotricity

Alternative Energy Sources

Today, there are exciting developments in renewable energy sources, and we will certainly need these sources heading into the next century. Roughly one-fifth of all energy is generated by renewables on a global basis. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and biomass are all renewable because they should continue, theoretically, as long as we have the Sun. However, that’s also the issue with these renewables is their dependence on the Sun.

Even if renewables could quickly close the gap, to support 100% of today’s population of 7 billion people, there is still a question if there is enough power from the Sun to support a population of 10 billion or 15 billion people. Also, the bigger issue is the physical space for the next generations. At some point, Earth reaches its maximum limit of energy per person.  Is that limit 10 billion people?  15 billion or 20 billion?

While there are many factors to consider, it’s likely that this limit is surpassed in a century or two. With the current population growth and decline of natural resources, it will force mankind to consider not only alternative energy, but alternative places to live. We will need new sources of energy to survive.  Solar power, for example, decreases considerably as you move away from the Sun (reduces by a square of the distance).

The renewable energy sources that we are investing in today, should absolutely be continued and will be necessary in the future. Yet, it should also be recognized that these sources, alone, will not solve the energy needs of a growing planet for your kids, or the kids of their kids. A new, universal energy source must be recognized that is truly renewable and not dependent on our Sun.

 

energysources

Note:

  1. Nuclear is not included in the diagram as it is not dependent on the Sun.  However, it does rely on elements like uranium that are found on Earth.
  2. Wind and Hydro power are dependent on the Sun warming the Earth and causing pressure differences (wind) or evaporation that returns to Earth from gravitational forces (hydro).

 

A Universal Energy Source

Nearly all of the known energy sources on Earth can be traced back to the Sun. The exception is nuclear energy, but it is replicating the same nuclear process of the Sun. The consumption of energy has been simplified to people, vehicles and devices below to illustrate how everything is tied back to the Sun.

People eat food (animals or plants).  Following the food chain, even animals eat plants that eventually get their energy from photosynthesis, which requires light from the Sun. These plants and animals have stored energy for millions of years that are buried in the Earth as fossil fuels, which are then burned in our vehicles or power plants to create electricity. In a separate branch, light and heat from the Sun are now harnessed by solar, wind, hydro and biomass to produce electricity. These are all examples of energy changing forms. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, following the laws of science.

Universal Energy Source?

 

Following the logic, it appears that all energy sources originate from the Sun (nuclear power was left out of the diagram). The issue with nuclear power is that it is dependent on resources like uranium that are found on Earth and not renewable, just like fossil fuels. In fact, uranium and other heavy elements are created deep inside stars bigger than the Sun in their last stages of life. So, indeed, everything can eventually be traced back to stars.

To remove the dependence on the Sun as our primary source of energy, we need to follow the logic one step further. What causes nuclear fusion in the Sun? Gravity. The Sun, and other stars in the universe, reach a size large enough to start the nuclear fusion process due to gravity. While this may seem impossible to replicate on Earth, it does show that there is one truly universal energy source that travels throughout space with the energy to start the fusion process.

This is why the study of energy and related theories are incredibly important for our future.

 


Introduction to Energy Wave Theory