dudejcb wrote:The best thing we can do for energy is learn to use less and make high efficiency buildings and (industrial) combined heat and power part of our energy infrastructure.
How does that reduce energy use? This is a serious question.
If my combined electric, gas, etc., energy bills are $5,000 per year and I reduce it to $4,000 per year. What will I do with that extra $1,000 per year? Spend it on something that consumes energy, will I not? Now what I might do is turn the air up in the summer and the furnace up in the winter.
True energy efficiency makes energy more valuable. Simple economics tells us that when the price stays the same and the value rises, demand rises.
It is not clear if the net impact will be positive or negative.
However, regardless. No matter how efficient we become, the only way to prevent a HUGE increase in energy demand is to prevent the rest of the world from improving their lives economically. If we cut our demand 50% and China rises to that level as well, that is a huge increase in energy demand.
In 2011, the world used 77 MBTU per capita, while the U.S. used 310 MBTU per capita. The U.S. has actually declined because we have done those things. It was 360 MBTU per capita in 1973.
If the world rises to 50% of the U.S. average, that means world energy demand more than doubles. Does anyone really think we can get to 50%?
My guess is we will start to grow again because the efficiency gains that were easy in the last few decades have been done.
Now that doubling is without ANY population growth. The doubling time of the world population is currently at about 45 years. So that means another doubling of energy demand in the next half century if that holds.
We need to figure out how to produce massive amounts of energy in an environmentally benign way. We have gotten much better across the board, but we need a huge pile no matter what. Sure efficiency is nice, but we need a crapload of energy even if efficiency exceeds our wildest dreams. Or we need to keep the rest of the world in poverty.
Stupid people can cause problems, but it usually takes brilliant people to create a real catastrophe. Thomas Sowell