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Growing Power Demand

Doug Houseman's picture
Visionary and innovator in the utility industry and grid modernization Burns & McDonnell

I have a broad background in utilities and energy. I worked for Capgemini in the Energy Practice for more than 15 years. During that time I rose to the position of CTO of the 12,000 person...

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In 1960 (in my childhood) the world had 3 billion people and used 40,000 TWH. In 2020 the world had 7.5 billion people and used 160,000 TWH.

Population was 250% higher, energy use 400% higher.

That was over 50 years.

At those rates, in 2070 the world will have over 18 billion people and will use 640,000 TWH.

Those are staggering and sobering numbers.

Not only do we need to figure out how to be far more efficient with energy, but how slow population growth - how we will feed 18 billion people is something I have no clue about. Oh course in the 1960s we wondered how we would feed 4 billion people.

Solutions to these problems need focus and smart people.

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Jul 8, 2021

Doug, lately it's been hard to view any proverbial glass as half-full. But with the COVID-19 vaccines proving successful, I feel oddly hopeful again.

"Not only do we need to figure out how to be far more efficient with energy..."

Either that, or we need to figure out how to generate cheap, abundant, carbon-free energy - then efficiency becomes irrelevant. Fortunately, we already have.

...but how [to] slow population growth."

Fortunately, we already know how to slow population growth: increase global prosperity (developed countries have always had lower birthrates).

"Solutions to these problems need focus and smart people."

Fortunately, we have many, many smart people, and the smart people in climate science agree: nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change.

It's the "focus" - listening to what they have to say. That's the hard part.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Jul 8, 2021

Doug,

Wondering where did you get the electricity numbers?? or are you converting all energy usage to TWh? Electricity usage has only grown by 5,000 TWh in last 10 years.

In 1960 (in my childhood) the world had 3 billion people and used 40,000 TWH. In 2020 the world had 7.5 billion people and used 160,000 TWH.

 

As far as the population numbers the relevant question is really - when will the world as a whole join countries like Japan where population is already declining? 

Census Finds Japan’s Population Declined by More than 800,000 in Five Years

 

There are many countries around the world already experiencing negative population growth. China population may start declining this decade and there is some speculation that the government is exaggerating population numbers and the the population has already started to decline there. Note: the workforce aged population has already been declining for years.

 

The only regions of the world that will show growth between now and 2050 are Africa and possibly India.

 

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