Unbiased introduction, Topic 3: What is the best individual solution to meeting the world’s growing energy demand?
Tuesday, November 13, 2012: 4:00 PM
Lecture Hall, Floor Two (Knoxville Convention Center)
With rapid increasing population, urbanization and development of modern industries, the global energy demand is greatly increasing. Only in 2008, total worldwide energy consumption was 132,000 TWh, which could be visualized as the average power use of 150 billion 100W light bulbs. Currently, fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas and coal, play the biggest role in energy consumption. They provide 80% of the global energy demands, while the proportion of renewable energy and nuclear power are 13.5% and 6.5%, respectively. However, this energy pattern is inflicting many serious problems. Fossil fuels are nonrenewable and depleting; they are estimated to be run out within several decades at the current rate of consumption. Greenhouse gas emissions cause climate changes, which enhance the severity of extreme climate event and adversely impact the balance of ecosystems and biological diversity. Therefore it is widely advocated to diversify with a mix of various energy sources and to put more emphasis on renewable ones, such as solar power and biofuels. They are considered to be inexhaustible and abundant. The enormous power levels of solar energy enable us to believe that the exploit of solar energy can solve those problems. The combination of various new technologies (photovoltaic cells, solar cooling system and solar hydrogen platform) has partially realized the conservation and sustainability. Besides, biofuels can be another most important energy source because they are clean, high-efficient and reusable. Jatropha, corns, sugarcanes, crop waste and other organic materials can be used as feedstock of biofuels.