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Plugged In

Plugged In

More than wires - exploring the connections between energy, environment, and our lives

The Most Important Energy Source for the Future is…

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For months I've been writing about how hydraulic fracturing is shifting our energy mix from oil to natural gas. From environmental impacts to geopolitics, new horizontal drilling technologies are transforming the 21st century energy landscape.

But the most important energy source for the future isn't oil or gas - at least, according to Exxon. It's energy efficiency. And I agree. As Exxon's new Outlook for Energy points out, the world’s population will grow by 2 billion people by 2040. We will be more urbanized and industrialized and we'll need a lot more energy to meet demand.

Overall energy consumption will go up 35 percent during that time but it would be far higher without advances in energy efficiencies...That’s everything from more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrid cars, to more fuel-efficient power plants. Electricity generation will grow by 90 percent by 2040 but the amount of fuel needed to generate that electricity will only grow by 50 percent.

Not everyone has the same impact when it comes to energy consumption. Consider: On a per capita* basis, the average Texan consumes about twice as much energy as the average American, four times as much as the average person living in the UK, and about eight times as much energy as the average person living in China. Those at the low end of that spectrum are going to want to adopt more energy intense technologies, so all around the world, the focus must be on efficiency.

The UT Energy Poll will be released tomorrow and this wave takes a close look at public opinion on energy efficiency. The new data considers consumer attitudes and behavior, knowledge, and perceptions about the barriers to success. So stay tuned...

 

* It's important to note that considerations of per capita consumption can be deceiving. Texas consumes a tremendous about of energy in order to produce energy for other regions. But the message remains the same - impacts are not uniform.

This post originally appeared at Scientific American’s ‘Plugged In

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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