Tuesday, July 24, 2012

ENERGY SECURITY OPTIONS : GLOBAL TRENDS

There is a big debate going on regarding energy security options available to mankind and it has gained momentum in the light Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and global warming as a result of greenhouse gases produced by human activity such as deforestation and fossil fuel burning. The route taken by any country is going to be governed by mineral resources under its soil, available renewable energy resources, technologies available to it, the far sight and wisdom of its polity and people. A close look at the global trends in the field of energy additions can be of great help in understanding the right and wrong of available energy security options like power from coal, oil and gas, nuclear power, power from renewables like solar, wind, hydro,  geothermal, ocean and biomass. 
German story: 
Japanese Story:
  • Thermal Power and Nuclear power has been the mainstay of energy requirements from 1960 onwards accounting for 65% and 25 % respectively but after Fukushima Daiichi disaster all the nuclear plants have been closed for safety reviews and strong  public outcry has been growing for no to nuclear power.The Japanese government also seems to be inclined to phasing out of all nuclear plants. 
  • In its quest of providing energy security to the nation, Japan with its limited renewable energy resources is counting on Mongolia for wind power and is investing heavily in Sahara desert solar power potential.


Chinese Story:
  • China is targeting 21 GW of solar, 100 GW of wind and 13 GW of biomass power capacity by 2015. Further on it has endorsed a plan to step up to an installed capacity of 50 GW of solar power, 200 GW of wind power and 30 GW of biomass power by 2020.
  • Since it has massive military ambitions to be the topmost global power it aims to have 40 GW of nuclear power capacity by 2015 and about 60-70 GW by 2020.The programme seems to be guided by military ambitions alone.
US Story: 
  • USA one of the biggest propagator of nuclear energy for energy security option has only 19.66% of its electricity from nuclear energy and equally surprising is the fact that no new additions have been made to this much touted solution since the 3 mile accident in 1979. Also more than 50% of the Americans oppose any additions to country's nuclear energy as an energy security option.
  • In 2011 the additions in wind and solar energy were 6.7 GW and >1 GW respectively. The total installed renewable capacity being 93 GW second only to China.
  • Recently US has started envisaging ultra large scale solar power projects like the one for New York with a capacity of 2 GW.
These are just a few examples of the thought process of the major economic powers of the world. Since Germany and Japan are not inclined to jump onto the band wagon of nuclear weapon states they are purely guided by what is best for their country and its citizenry. Though China has very strong military super power ambitions, the fact that it still seems to be leading in the race to embracing renewables speaks volumes for the unmatched advantages of these technologies in the immediate future and for centuries to come. USA's actions and performance don't match its publicly declared love for nuclear energy option for long term energy security.