4.3 Primary energy resource potentials, supply chain and conversion technologies
This section discusses primary-supply and secondary-energy (carrier) technologies. Technologies that have developed little since the TAR are covered in detail elsewhere (e.g., IEA, 2006a). Energy flows proceed from primary sources through carriers to provide services for end-users (Figure 4.3). The status of energy sources and carriers is reviewed here along with their available resource potential and usage, conversion technologies, costs and environmental impacts. An analysis is made of the potential contributions due to further technological development for each resource to meet the world’s growing energy needs, but also to reduce atmospheric GHG emissions. Assessments of global energy reserves, resources and fluxes, together with cost ranges and sustainability issues, are summarized in Table 4.2.
Table 4.2: Generalized data for global energy resources (including potential reserves), annual rate of use (490 EJ in 2005), share of primary energy supply and comments on associated environmental impacts.
|Energy class ||Specific energy sourcea ||Estimated available energy resourceb (EJ) ||Rate of use in 2005 (EJ/yr)c ||2005 share of total supply (%) ||Comments on environmental impacts |
|Fossil energy ||Coal (conventional) ||>100,000 ||120 ||25 ||Average 92.0 gCO2/MJ |
|Coal (unconventional) ||32,000 ||0 || || |
|Peatd ||large ||0.2 ||<0.1 || |
|Gas (conventional) ||13,500 ||100 ||21 ||Average 52.4 gCO2/MJ |
|Gas (unconventional) ||18,000 ||Small || ||Unknown, likely higher |
|Coalbed methane || >8,000? || 1.5 ||0.3 || |
|Tight sands || 8,000 || 3.3 ||0.7 || |
|Hydrates || >60,000 || 0 || || |
|Oil (conventional) ||10,000 ||160 ||33 ||Average 76.3 gCO2/MJ |
|Oil (unconventional) ||35,000 ||3 ||0.6 ||Unknown, likely higher |
|Nuclear ||Uraniume ||7,400 ||26 ||5.3 ||Spent fuel disposition |
|Uranium recyclef ||220,000 ||Very small || ||Waste disposal |
|Fusion ||5 x 109 estimated ||0 || ||Tritium handling |
|Renewableg ||Hydro (>10 MW) ||60 /yr ||25 ||5.1 ||Land-use impacts |
|Hydro (< 10 MW) ||2 /yr ||0.8 ||0.2 || |
|Wind ||600 /yr ||0.95 ||0.2 || |
|Biomass (modern) ||250 /yr ||9 ||1.8 ||Likely land-use for crops |
|Biomass (traditional) || ||37 ||7.6 ||Air pollution |
|Geothermal ||5,000 /yr ||2 ||0.4 ||Waterway contamination |
|Solar PV ||1,600 /yr ||0.2 ||<0.1 ||Toxics in manufacturing |
|Concentrating solar ||50 /yrh ||0.03 ||0.1 ||Small |
|Ocean (all sources) ||7/yr (exploitable) ||<1 ||0 ||Land and coastal issues. |
4.3.1 Fossil fuels
Fossil energy resources remain abundant but contain significant amounts of carbon that are normally released during combustion. The proven and probable reserves of oil and gas are enough to last for decades and in the case of coal, centuries (Table. 4.2). Possible undiscovered resources extend these projections even further.
Fossil fuels supplied 80% of world primary energy demand in 2004 (IEA, 2006b) and their use is expected to grow in absolute terms over the next 20–30 years in the absence of policies to promote low-carbon emission sources. Excluding traditional biomass, the largest constituent was oil (35%), then coal (25%) and gas (21%) (BP, 2005). In 2003 alone, world oil consumption increased by 3.4%, gas by 3.3% and coal by 6.3% (WEC, 2004a). Oil accounted for 95% of the land-, water- and air-transport sector demand (IEA, 2005d) and, since there is no evidence of saturation in the market for transportation services (WEC, 2004a), this percentage is projected to rise (IEA, 2003c). IEA (2005b) projected that oil demand will grow between 2002 and 2030 (by 44% in absolute terms), gas demand will almost double, and CO2 emissions will increase by 62% (which lies between the SRES A1 and B2 scenario estimates of +101% and +55%, respectively; Table 4.1).
Fossil energy use is responsible for about 85% of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions produced annually (IEA, 2003d). Natural gas is the fossil fuel that produces the lowest amount of GHG per unit of energy consumed and is therefore favoured in mitigation strategies. Fossil fuels have enjoyed economic advantages that other technologies may not be able to overcome, although there has been a recent trend for fossil fuel prices to increase and renewable energy prices to decrease because of continued productivity improvements and economies of scale. All fossil fuel options will continue to be used if matters are left solely to the market place to determine choice of energy conversion technologies. If GHGs are to be reduced significantly, either current uses of fossil energy will have to shift toward low- and zero-carbon sources, and/or technologies will have to be adopted that capture and store the CO2 emissions. The development and implementation of low-carbon technologies and deployment on a larger scale requires considerable investment, which, however, should be compared with overall high investments in future energy infrastructure (see Section 4.1).