In recent years the use of renewable energy has grown exponentially. But what exactly does “exponentially” mean? From what point has it grown?
Can we even begin to understand the magnitude of our energy use?
These are all viable questions, but the fight between renewable energy and the oil and gas industry is really no contest.
First, we need to understand just how much oil and gas the entire planet uses. Thanks to a fantastic article on Forbes, we can begin to peel back the layers.
Ryan Carlyle states the use of renewable energy as a percentage of world energy consumption grew by just .07% from 1973 to 2009. Squashing any hope that we might’ve had before, Ryan then goes on to say there’s no viable replacement for oil and gas within our lifetime.
Of course, anything could happen, but our planet is much too dependent on fossil fuels.
Every day the world consumes 82 million barrels of oil, which is 5.7 terawatts of power. World solar production in 2010 was roughly 3.4 gigawatts. In other words, after a year of solar power generation, that output still isn’t even close to the output that oil and gas provides us every single day.
For perspective, if solar power generation doubled every year for 100 years, it would still be far behind oil in terms of energy output.
The nail in the coffin is, if we do find an alternate energy, it will take 50 years for the entire economy to re-tool everything around it.