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Understanding the Global Energy Crisis

EUGENE D. COYLE
RICHARD A. SIMMONS
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Purdue University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wq56p
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  • Book Info
    Understanding the Global Energy Crisis
    Book Description:

    We are facing a global energy crisis caused by world population growth, an escalating increase in demand, and continued dependence on fossil-based fuels for generation. It is widely accepted that increases in greenhouse gas concentration levels, if not reversed, will result in major changes to world climate with consequential effects on our society and economy. This is just the kind of intractable problem that Purdue University’s Global Policy Research Institute seeks to address in the Purdue Studies in Public Policy series by promoting the engagement between policy makers and experts in fields such as engineering and technology. Major steps forward in the development and use of technology are required. In order to achieve solutions of the required scale and magnitude within a limited timeline, it is essential that engineers be not only technologically adept, but also aware of the wider social and political issues that policy makers face. Likewise, it is also imperative that policy makers liaise closely with the academic community in order to realize advances. This book is designed to bridge the gap between these two groups, with a particular emphasis on educating the socially conscious engineers and technologists of the future. In this accessibly written volume, central issues in global energy are discussed through interdisciplinary dialogue between experts from both North America and Europe. The first section provides an overview of the nature of the global energy crisis approached from historical, political, and sociocultural perspectives. In the second section, expert contributors outline the technology and policy issues facing the development of major conventional and renewable energy sources. The third and final section explores policy and technology challenges and opportunities in the distribution and consumption of energy, in sectors such as transportation and the built environment. The book’s epilogue suggests some future scenarios in energy distribution and use.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-309-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-X)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. XI-XII)
    Arden L. Bement Jr.

    I believe that this book will be regarded as a classic in describing the emerging global energy crises and alternate approaches for addressing them. It will not only serve several purposes in the technology and policy worlds but will also appeal to a broader audience. As the authors intended, it is an excellent technical source book for engineers and technologists. It provides a comprehensive review of the history of energy conversion and use; current and emerging technologies to achieve energy sustainability in a highly stressed planet; and contemporary international efforts to find solutions to the complex issues involved. Accordingly, it...

  4. Preface
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
    Eugene D. Coyle and Richard A. Simmons
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Energy is everywhere and drives everything. Our modern lives, both individual and societal, have come to depend on its abundance, convenience, and potential. It is the motive force within our bodies, propelling our vehicles, lighting our world. Consider a power outage, or a dead cell phone battery; living without energy, for even ten minutes, demonstrates how indelible its imprint is on daily activities. At the same time, we inhabit an amazing ecosystem, as resilient as it is fragile. Our energy comes from and returns to a global environment. The world is in a predicament, yet this is no book of...

  6. PART 1: THE GLOBAL ENERGY CRISIS IN CONTEXT
    • Chapter 1 Reflections on Energy, Greenhouse Gases, and Carbonaceous Fuels
      (pp. 11-26)
      EUGENE D. COYLE, WILLIAM GRIMSON, BISWAJIT BASU and MIKE MURPHY

      Humankind has always needed energy, and while the source and usage of energy have changed over time some patterns have remained constant. In earlier times food was the key source of energy for people and their livestock. This form of energy not only allowed our race to survive but dictated in part how civilization developed. Societies worldwide focused on developing new and sustainable food sources. The storage of food and its distribution was a factor in how groups learned to organize themselves communally, best survive periods of shortage, and also benefit from occasional abundances. The discovery of methods of processing...

    • Chapter 2 Global Energy Policy Perspectives
      (pp. 27-72)
      RICHARD A. SIMMONS, EUGENE D. COYLE and BERT CHAPMAN

      Energy has been an enabling driver of unprecedented levels of economic growth, prosperity, and globalization, particularly during the past century. Throughout this period, a variety of primary energy sources have enjoyed eras of popularity, including traditional biomass, coal, oil, and natural gas. Due to a complex combination of factors, including the prospects of resource constraint, security of supply, and heightened environmental concern, a host of alternatives to traditional fossil fuels including renewable and unconventional sources of energy have been introduced to the global energy matrix in recent decades. However, the demand for energy and the enhanced quality of life it...

    • Chapter 3 Social Engagement by the Engineer
      (pp. 73-88)
      MELISSA DARK, IDA NGAMBEKI, DENNIS DEPEW and RYLAN CHONG

      Questions of energy use and distribution and the global energy crisis must be considered in the context of energy producers, users, and the social environment that shapes energy use. To do so it is necessary to understand the social environment. A social environment is a context; it is a set of circumstances in which an event occurs; a time or place in which people live or in which something happens or develops. In the largest sense, the social environment is the milieu developed by humans (as opposed to the natural environment): it is society as a whole. Social environments are...

  7. PART 2: ENERGY CONVERSION TECHNOLOGY
    • Chapter 4 Harnessing Nature: Wind, Hydro, Wave, Tidal, and Geothermal Energy
      (pp. 91-124)
      EUGENE D. COYLE, BISWAJIT BASU, JONATHAN BLACKLEDGE and WILLIAM GRIMSON

      Given both the proven market position of fossil fuels in world energy supply and the difficulties associated with continued or increasing demand and use of coal, petroleum, and natural gas, we need to consider the current status and future potential for a range of renewable technologies: onshore and offshore wind, hydroelectric energy, wave and tidal energy, and geothermal energy. Chapters five and six will go further, exploring developments in solar energy underpinned by nanotechnology and biofuels, respectively.

      Hydrogeneration remains the world’s largest carbon-neutral renewable electricity resource, with global installed capacity of approximately 3.4 GWh (gigawatt hours per year). Wind installation...

    • Chapter 5 Solar Power and the Enabling Role of Nanotechnology
      (pp. 125-150)
      ALI SHAKOURI, BRIAN NORTON and HELEN MCNALLY

      Electricity derived directly from solar and thermal sources is experiencing dramatic growth in clean energy markets, while emerging research in nanotechnology is helping to underpin broader development efforts. Solar power, including photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies, has become the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source in terms of new installations in recent years. Thermoelectric conversion is enjoying growth as well, particularly in niche applications such as off-grid or mobile electricity generated from waste heat or small scale cooling via applied electrical input when run in reverse.

      Nanotechnology enables the manipulation of matter and the fabrication of devices with atomic dimensions....

    • Chapter 6 Biofuel Prospects in an Uncertain World
      (pp. 151-166)
      WALLY TYNER and RICHARD A. SIMMONS

      Biofuels have been a part of the global energy picture since the mid-1970s. Brazil was the first major producer beginning in 1975 with the launch of its PROALCOOL program, which provided subsidies for sugarcane ethanol production.¹ This policy was mainly motivated by the 1973 oil crisis, and Brazil saw sugarcane ethanol as a means of becoming more independent from the rest of the world for liquid fuel. Production began in the United States in the early 1980s, stimulated by the National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1978.² That legislation initially provided a subsidy for ethanol of $0.40 per gallon, and...

    • Chapter 7 A Future Role for Nuclear Energy?
      (pp. 167-190)
      LEFTERI H. TSOUKALAS, RONG GAO and EUGENE D. COYLE

      Nuclear power is based on a fundamental principle discovered about seventy years ago. The nucleus of a fissile isotope, such as uranium₂₃₅ (²³⁵U) or plutonium₂₃₉ (²³⁹Pu), becomes an unstable compound after capturing an extra neutron and it will promptly split into two smaller fragments, releasing enormous amounts of heat in the process. The heat is carried away by a coolant, typically water, gas or liquid metal, which subsequently converts water into steam that drives a turbine to generate electricity.

      As with other material commodities, nuclear fuels experience three phases during their life cycle: acquisition, utilization and disposal (Figure 7.1).

      The...

  8. PART 3: ENERGY DISTRIBUTION AND USE
    • Chapter 8 Taking Emerging Renewable Technologies to Market
      (pp. 193-214)
      MELISSA DARK, JENNY DAUGHERTY, PETER CAMPBELL and WILLIAM GRIMSON

      This chapter provides a brief overview of various economic, political, social, and maintainability factors that influence bringing technologies to market. In order to illustrate the interactions among social, technical, and economic systems, a few salient aspects of these systems are elaborated as a way of laying a foundation for a more detailed account focused on wave energy. Furthermore, all factors are endogenous, meaning that 1) these factors are all a part of the environment or system in which a technology is brought to market, and 2) the value of these factors is determined by the states of other variables in...

    • Chapter 9 Transportation and Energy
      (pp. 215-254)
      RICHARD A. SIMMONS, SHAUN MCFADDEN, DAVID KENNEDY and MARY JOHNSON

      As we shift gears to consider energy for transportation, it quickly becomes apparent that the sector’s Achilles heel is its disproportionate reliance on oil. From one’s daily commute, to the family vacation, and even the laptop shipped from overseas—chances are that transportation, fueled by petroleum, has made it possible. This has significant geopolitical, economic, and environmental consequences, none of which are easily navigated in the near term. While the oil dependency of major consuming countries varies, the United States is not unique with a transportation sector that accounts for nearly thirty percent of total domestic energy consumption and a...

    • Chapter 10 Policy Challenges for the Built Environment: The Dilemma of the Existing Building Stock
      (pp. 255-282)
      MARK SHAURETTE

      Energy use in the built environment comprises approximately forty percent of the energy consumed in developed countries. In 2004, the emissions resulting from direct energy use in the built environment were about 8.6 Gt of CO₂ per year. Through the use of mature technologies, building energy use can be reduced substantially. Due to the long life of buildings, energy policy aimed at promoting building energy conservation in existing buildings is confronted by significant technical challenges. New construction produces substantially more efficient structures, but there are obvious limits to the rapid replacement of inefficient buildings. In addition, the complexity of design...

  9. Epilogue: Reflections on Our Path Forward
    (pp. 283-290)

    What do the trajectories of energy supply and demand, population growth, and climate change suggest about the future? Can sustainable, practical, affordable solutions be brought to bear upon these challenges? As we deepen our understanding of the questions, we come to realize that the solutions will not be easy ones at all. These are wicked problems that will require trade-offs and tough decisions. They will lead to new questions, some more complicated yet. As we noted in Part I, it is unlikely a single technology or a single country will swing the needle entirely by itself. Nor will any single...

  10. Index
    (pp. 291-304)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)