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What energy levels can the Earth sustain?

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  • Moriarty, Patrick
  • Honnery, Damon
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    Abstract

    Several official reports on future global primary energy production and use develop scenarios which suggest that the high energy growth rates of the 20th century will continue unabated until 2050 and even beyond. In this paper we examine whether any combination of fossil, nuclear, and renewable energy sources can deliver such levels of primary energy--around 1000Â EJ in 2050. We find that too much emphasis has been placed on whether or not reserves in the case of fossil and nuclear energy, or technical potential in the case of renewable energy, can support the levels of energy use forecast. In contrast, our analysis stresses the crucial importance of the interaction of technical potentials for annual production with environmental factors, social, political, and economic concerns and limited time frames for implementation, in heavily constraining the real energy options for the future. Together, these constraints suggest that future energy consumption will be significantly lower than the present level.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V2W-4W034C2-4/2/aeaae3d8b74d503aa1dc07bf2c467657
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 2469-2474

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:7:p:2469-2474

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

    Related research

    Keywords: Forecasting Fossil fuels Climate change;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Patrick Moriarty & Damon Honnery, 2007. "Global bioenergy: problems and prospects," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 27(2), pages 231-249.
    2. de Vries, Bert J.M. & van Vuuren, Detlef P. & Hoogwijk, Monique M., 2007. "Renewable energy sources: Their global potential for the first-half of the 21st century at a global level: An integrated approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 2590-2610, April.
    3. Feltrin, Andrea & Freundlich, Alex, 2008. "Material considerations for terawatt level deployment of photovoltaics," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 180-185.
    4. Schiffer, Hans-Wilhelm, 2008. "WEC energy policy scenarios to 2050," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 2464-2470, July.
    5. Ayres, Robert U., 2008. "Sustainability economics: Where do we stand?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 281-310, September.
    6. Moriarty, Patrick & Honnery, Damon, 2008. "Mitigating greenhouse: Limited time, limited options," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 1251-1256, April.
    7. Abbasi, S. A. & Abbasi, Naseema, 2000. "The likely adverse environmental impacts of renewable energy sources," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 65(1-4), pages 121-144, April.
    8. Nel, Willem P. & Cooper, Christopher J., 2009. "Implications of fossil fuel constraints on economic growth and global warming," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 166-180, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Moriarty, Patrick & Honnery, Damon, 2011. "Is there an optimum level for renewable energy?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 2748-2753, May.
    2. Pickard, William F., 2010. "Finessing the fuel: Revisiting the challenge of radioactive waste disposal," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 709-714, February.
    3. Friedrichs, Jörg, 2010. "Global energy crunch: How different parts of the world would react to a peak oil scenario," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 4562-4569, August.
    4. Moriarty, Patrick & Honnery, Damon, 2010. "A human needs approach to reducing atmospheric carbon," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 695-700, February.
    5. Zografakis, Nikolaos & Sifaki, Elli & Pagalou, Maria & Nikitaki, Georgia & Psarakis, Vasilios & Tsagarakis, Konstantinos P., 2010. "Assessment of public acceptance and willingness to pay for renewable energy sources in Crete," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 1088-1095, April.
    6. Trainer, Ted, 2010. "Can renewables etc. solve the greenhouse problem? The negative case," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 4107-4114, August.
    7. Peura, Pekka, 2013. "From Malthus to sustainable energy—Theoretical orientations to reforming the energy sector," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 309-327.

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