Written by CEO Matt Berry
The late Nobel laureate Richard Smalley called it the “Terawatt Challenge.” The world’s most pressing problems, he explained, could only be addressed if the people of the world have plenty of energy. Smalley listed “energy” as the top problem facing the world, followed by water, food, environment, and poverty. He said if we can solve the first problem on the list – energy – then “the next four go away.”
Of all forms of energy, Smalley said electricity “is a much better answer” for meeting the world’s energy needs because it “is a superb way to move energy from one place to another.”
According to industry author Robert Bryce, the best way to meet this need for humanity is through fossil fuels and nuclear. Renewables produce miniscule amounts of unreliable electricity, Bryce wrote in “A Question of Power: Electricity and The Wealth of Nations.”
In 2018, global electricity use jumped by 4 percent, primarily driven by coal in China and India. At that rate of growth, global electricity use will double in just 18 years. Which means electric generation capacity will need to double, from roughly 6 terawatts today to about 12 terawatts by the late 2030s. And that is good news, because it would mean poverty and squalor are decreasing. Wind and solar cannot come anywhere remotely close to meeting that need, Bryce said. So if you care about lifting people out of poverty and squalor, then you will need fossil fuels and nuclear.
Adding 6 terawatts globally will be a huge challenge. To put that in perspective, the U.S. currently has about 1 terawatt of generation capacity. Therefore, over the next three decades, the countries of the world will have to add six grids the size of the existing U.S. grid. That is, if you care about lifting humanity out of poverty.
Bryce wrote that the documented reasons for the global increase in electricity demand are: marijuana production, the expansion of digital commerce, and cryptocurrency production, along with urbanization, population growth, air conditioning, water treatment, and electric vehicles.
By 2018, only 5 percent of India’s households had air conditioning, compared to 87% in the U.S. Air conditioner sales in India are increasing by 13% annually. The International Energy Agency said of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world, only 8% have air conditioners. It would be selfish of us to deny them while we enjoy it.
Environmental groups and some politicians want to force carbon-free electricity. But they all oppose nuclear energy, which can produce massive amounts of electricity with zero carbon emissions. The environmental groups don’t seem too concerned about alleviating poverty and lifting mankind out of squalor.
The documented reasons for the global increase in electricity demand are: marijuana production, the expansion of digital commerce, and cryptocurrency production, along with urbanization, population growth, air conditioning, water treatment, and electric vehicles.
Have you ever wondered why. when you see pictures of an impoverished village in Africa, you'll see a building with solar panels. The solar panel produces a miniscule amount of electricity, for less than half the day. It's no wonder they can't escape poverty.