Energy Resources

Abstract

This research paper is about the changes in the availability, cost, location, types, and sustainability of energy resources by 2050. The research focuses on the general categories of energy resources, namely fossil fuels, renewable resources, and nuclear power sources; then, it narrows down to specific energy types in each category. The primary objective of the paper is to determine if there will be any changes in the availability, cost location, and sustainability of each energy type.

The results of the study indicate that the viability of the fossil fuels is likely to decrease towards 2050 due to the adverse environmental implications. On the contrary, the use of renewable resources will increase by 2050 because these resources provide clean energy. However, the sustainability of nuclear resources by will remain contentious by 2050 due to hostile political climate on the use of such resources as a source of energy.

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Energy Resources 

Energy resources play a significant role in the modern day economy. They aid the operation anything that consumes energy, from small gadgets, such as mobile phones, to big industrial machines. The United States of America relies heavily on oil, coal, wind, water, solar, and natural gas as its sources of energy. The situation is not different in other parts of the world. While the type of energy used depends on the kind of the machines that use it, such products of fossil fuels as petroleum and diesel remain the preferred sources of energy for industrial and transport use. These fuels draw on finite reserves that are on the brink of exhaustion. Additionally, these fuels are expensive to use. More to say, they pose huge danger to the environment; specifically, they cause the greenhouse effect that has contributed to climate change in most parts of the world.

Although fossils fuels provide instant power, the alternative sources of energy, such as renewable ones, are cheap to use and environmentally friendly. In addition, such fuels are naturally available and not likely deplete in the future. Scientists have identified changes in the patterns of fossil fuels and the renewable resources around the globe. Concisely, most of the oil reserves around the world are in decline, and it is quite rapid. The case is a complete opposite in the case of renewable sources of energy. These resources are self-replenishing. This paper will carry out a detailed research to establish the expected changes in availability, cost, location, types, and sustainability of renewable, fossil, and nuclear energy resources by 2050. 

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels comprise of oil, coal, and natural gas. This category is the primary source of the world’s energy. These fuels are formed from organic materials after million years of decomposition. The non-renewables sources have fueled the US economy and fostered the global economic development in the past century. However, these resources are finite.

Moreover, the use of fossils fuels has generated debate around the globe due to its negative implication for the environment. According to Yang, Yeh, Zakerinia, Ramea, and McCollum, the Environmental Protection Agency has identified that the fossil fuels are responsible for over 79% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 in the USA only. Briefly, greenhouse gasses have the potential of causing catastrophic impacts on the global climate because they insulate the atmosphere, thus leading to the increase in global temperatures.

Oil

Oil is the primary global source of energy for industrial use and transportation. Oil is mostly found in underground reservoirs, with considerable amounts discovered in tar sands and shales. Oil is extracted in crude form and later processed to petroleum gas, fuel oil, gasoline and other non-fuel products such as fertilizers and pesticides. The United States has the largest oil reserves. According to Hook and Tang, the USA has over 264 billion barrels of oil, which exceeds the 221 billion reserve in Saudi Arabia. The global availability of oil is likely to decrease significantly towards 2050 because oil is found in fixed reserves. Consequently, the cost of oil is likely to increase in the future because the growing demand with the limited supply of the commodity is likely to push prices up. Similarly, there is a possible shift of location resources as drilling companies move in unexploited areas in search of more oil. Conclusively, the sustainability of the use of oil is likely to reduce by 2050 due to political and environmental concerns. 

Coal

Coal is an energy resource utilized in the generation of electricity. According to McGlade and Ekins, China is the world’s biggest producer of the resource, accounting 45% of the world’s supply. Additionally, coal is used in the production of more that 39% of electric power in the United States. The extraction of the resource has adverse environmental impacts due to the destruction of flora and fauna, while its combustion leads to the emission of nitrogen oxides, mercury, and sulfur dioxides. At the same time, the use of coal is a major contributor to greenhouse gasses. The global availability of this resource is likely to decrease considerably by 2050 because of the fixed volumes and high rate of daily use. Consequently, the prices for coal are likely to increase drastically by 2050 due to the limited supply and growing demand for this commodity. The location of coal reservoirs is likely to remain constant although daily exploitation of the deposits will lead to the depletion of these reservoirs. In short, the sustainability of coal as energy resource is likely to reduce by 2050 due to the campaign of the use of clean energy instead of the non-renewable energy sources. 

Natural Gas

Natural gas is mainly used for heat production and other industrial purposes. Russia is the leading supplier of the commodity in Europe, while Canada in the main exporter of the commodity to the United States. The global demand for natural gas in on the rise, necessitating the transportation of the product in liquefied form. Natural gas burns cleaner than oil and coal. Consequently, it has near zero Sulfur oxides emissions responsible for global warming. In numbers, natural gas releases 43% less carbon as compared to coal and 30% less carbon dioxide in the case of oil. Natural gas is mainly composed of methane, a greenhouse gas, but capturing and burning gas to produce heat can potentially reduce the amount of methane released directly into the atmosphere. By 2050, the availability of natural gas is likely to increase due to increased demand, especially in eveloping countries. Consequently, the cost of the product is likely to reduce due to increased supply. New search for the commodity is likely to change the exploitation locations towards 2050 (Harmsen, Roes, & Patel, 2013). Therefore, the sustainability of natural gas is likely to reduce by 2050 because the products occur as the primary source of heat in many households around the globe, which has the effect of lowering the production quantities. 

Renewable Resources

Renewable energy is derived from naturally occurring and renewable resources. Such sources of energy include geothermal, sunlight, biomass, wind, and water power. Each of these resources has its strengths and weaknesses and varies considerably by geography. These sources provide safe, clean, and cheap energy that can potentially curb the increasing levels of greenhouse gasses. The production of renewable energy is restricted to locations and specific times of day. For example, solar energy is confined during the day. There has been a spirited campaign to push for the use of renewable resources in the wake of the climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels. None of the above sources can supply sufficient energy to meet global demands. However, together, these sources can potentially displace non-renewable resources without increasing the cost of energy produced. 

Bioenergy

Bioenergy is the energy produced by the decomposition of plant and animal materials. This energy can be utilized as a source of electricity, transportation fuels, and heat energy. The effectiveness of the resource can be achieved in every part of the globe due to the availability of agricultural feedstock and urban wastes. The availability of biomass energy is likely to increase considerably by 2050 due to the championship of the use of clean energy resources. The cost of biomass is likely to reduce toward 2050 because the growth in urban wastes as the result of an increase in population will provide adequate raw materials for the generation of this type of energy. Similarly, more nations are likely to adopt the biotechnology as a way of reusing municipal wastes. Therefore, the sustainability of bioenergy is likely to increase towards 2050 due to the increase in the need to deal with municipal organic wastes and environmental conservation. 

Solar Energy

Solar energy systems convert sun rays into electricity and thermal energy. This type of power can be used for lighting, heating, cooling, and a variety of industrial applications. In the United States, the majority of solar energy plants are located in the Southwest, while households use small photovoltaics cells for water heating. Solar energy is naturally available in all regions of the world, but is it highly influenced by the rotation of the earth. Consequently, equatorial regions are most suitable ones for harnessing solar energy due to the availability of the sun throughout the year. Solar power can be produced on small and large scales. The availability of solar energy is likely to increase by 2050 due to the rising harnessing of clean energy. Consequently, the costs of solar power are likely to nose dive. While sun energy is highly influenced by the rotation of the earth, the number of solar production centers is likely to increase as scientists move towards the desert areas with dry and sunny weather. Moreover, every continent in the world has a desert, which will ensure maximum utilization of solar energy to replace fossil fuels. Conclusively, solar energy sustainability is likely to enhance by 2050 due to the increased research and technological advancement, which enables the harnessing of sun energy even in small scales. Furthermore, this source of energy is preferred because it is renewable and it does not lead to greenhouse gas emissions. 

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy refers to the energy that comes from below the earth’s surface. This energy can be utilized for both heating and production of electricity. Geothermal energy is spatially limited and it can be used in the areas close to the earth’s core. Some of the countries with active geothermal sites include the United States, the Philippines, Italy, Mexico, Indonesia, and Kenya. The availability of the resource will be limited depending on the investments in exploration. However, the generation such energy is likely to increase considerably by 2050 because of high amounts of energy generated and the fact that geothermal reserves are renewable. As a result, the cost for the power produced from geothermal sources is likely to decrease by 2050. Although exploration depends on the investments, geothermal production locations are likely to increase towards 2050 as new and unexploited sites will be used. Furthermore, this type of energy is environmentally friendly.

Wind Energy

Wind energy comes from renewable energy resource and depends on the availability of wind to drive wind turbines. In the United States, wind power plants are found in the mid-west, the Atlantic Coast, and Texas. However, wind power is more developed in Denmark where wind covers over 140% of the country’s electricity demand. By 2050, the availability of wind energy is likely to increase as more countries agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adopting clean energy sources. Consequently, this increase is likely to reduce the costs of production of wind energy and the costs of consumption. Similarly, the amount of wind power plants will increase gradually around the globe as more countries finance the construction of such facilities. Thus, the sustainability of wind power is likely to improve towards 2050 due to the need in green sources of energy and as a measure to counter climate change. 

Hydropower Energy

Hydropower energy is one of the most developed renewable sources of energy in the world. The generation depends on the force of dam water. Hydropower remains one of the most preferred sources of electricity due to high amounts of heat generated within an hour. However, the global use of hydropower is on the decline due to the development of other renewable energy resources. The availability of hydropower is projected to increase by 2050 as the world moves closer to the use of renewable resources. Hydropower plants are likely to be found in more locations as many countries will tap river waters to improve electricity generation, thus leading to the reduced cost of hydropower. Finally, the sustainability of hydropower is likely to improve because of increased production of energy. 

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power is the energy resulting from nuclear fusion or fission (Murray & Holbert, 2014). Nuclear energy is the only energy that has the potential of conserving the environment and climate because it does not emit greenhouse gasses. Electricity is generated as the result of the splitting of atoms. However, the issue of the nuclear energy has caused a heated debate on its use. Although nuclear power does not emit any carbon as fossil fuels do, the process of the production of energy has adverse environmental impacts such as the degradation of the environment as a result of pit mines. Furthermore, there are political concerns regarding the use of nuclear energy as it can be used for nuclear terrorism. In some cases, countries, such as North Korea and Iran, have manufactured nuclear weapons under the disguise of peaceful atom energy. 

The availability of nuclear power by 2050 remains contentious, with many countries opposing the production and the use of nuclear power. Consequently, the cost for generation of the resource is likely to increase towards 2050 as states will be required to meet strict global guidelines before energy production. At the same time, nuclear locations will remain limited towards 2050 as the Uranium, a key component used during the production, is limited globally. Moreover, the Uranium reserves are finite, which may lead to their depletion by 2050. Conclusively, the production of nuclear energy is likely to remain a contentious issue toward 2050 as production will highly depend on the political atmosphere in the world.

Conclusion

Energy resources play a significant role in the global economic development. The world energy resource are divided into three broad categories, namely fossil fuels, renewable resources, and nuclear power. Fossil fuels include oil, coal, and natural gas. These fuels are found in depletable deposits, and they are the leading causes of climate change. The availability of these resources is likely to reduce towards 2050, leading to the increased costs of products using them. Furthermore, these resources will be less sustainable in the future due to their effects on the environment and increasing depletion rate. On the other hand, renewable resources include water, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal. They are naturally occurring and self-replenishing ones. Their availability is likely to increase by 2050 as more countries turn to the the use of clean energy resources. Most countries champion the use of renewable energy resources due to the ability to reduce the greenhouse effect. Finally, nuclear power is derived from the fusion and fission of nuclear atoms. The sustainability of nuclear power towards 2050 remains contentious due to political implications of its use. In addition, the Uranium deposits are finite, which puts limitations of their exploitation. 

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Mar 24, 2020 in Economy
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