We will be using the term TerraWatt-Hours quite a bit in this article so let's cover some ground on that term first.
Most of all of all of all y'all know what a Giga-Watt is because of that movie Back To The Future...
A Giga-Watt be bigger than a Mega-Watt and a Tera...okay this is already needlessly confusing so I will just refer you to this article called "Orders of Magnitude (Power)"...
MegaWatt = 1 Million Watts
GigaWatt = 1 Billion Watts
TeraWatt = 1 Trillion Watts
Our unit of measurement for the ranking will refer to all instances of power in TeraWatt-Hours which is the TeraWatt unit over a time variable. It is as simple as Watts x Hours.
For example if you were running a series of devices at 5 TeraWatts for 5 hours then 5x5 would mean you have used 25 TerraWatt Hours.
Look-it my fellow global g-units, I'm not a scientist or anything and the datum and opinions expressed in this blog article are my understandings of what seems to be the global energy scenario, maybe all the things I read are false...who knows. I, of fairly sound mind at this moment, believe the statistics and opinions expressed in the following text are true...yet, who knows if they are wicked correct or not. I'm just a dude, man...just like you and me. If something written here is of interest to you than by all means conduct your own research and formulate your own opinions on the subject matter.
For example a lot of data comes from the Enerdata website. If these numbers are off in any way than I really can't know any better...I can't go test this shit out myself. You know?
Pre-Rating - Global Stats
How many Tera-Watt hours per year does our human society use? I've looked around at many sources and studies...the following seems to be the case:
Total Yearly Global Energy Use: 20,000 TWh
Fossil Fuel Use: ~71%
Hydro Electric Use: ~16%
Nuclear Use: ~12%
Other Use (Wind, Geo-Thermal, Zombie-Power, Solar, etc.): ~1%
Thems is the stats, the whole stats, and nothing but the stats.
Thems is the stats, the whole stats, and nothing but the stats.
We shall be looking mainly at three things. Does this energy have the shutzpah to power a lot of stuff? Does this energy cause a lot of filthy pollution? Is this a renewable energy that will last humans a long time? These are undoubtedly the burning questions we will ask about these energies.
1) Fossil Fuels
Potential: No Future
Energy by fossil fuels is the act of burning shit like coal, oil, or gas to create energy to power our devices and lights.
Almost the entire energy infrastructure of the globe is currently designed to use fossil fuels. Basically, Europe industrialized first and used fossil fuels to power their industries and vehicles, soon after the Americas followed suit and industrialized under the same template.
After World War 1, other countries wanted to get in on the whole industrialization phenomenon and Russia basically asked the USA, "hey bro, how do we do this?" and the American engineers sent them a detailed report on how they did it and next thing you know Russia is using this fossil fuel template.
Fast forward to only recently and hugely populated countries like China and India are on the phone with the same American engineers and ask, "hey bro...how do we get in on this shit?" and the engineers give China and India the template and lo and behold right now they are burning more fossil fuels than any other country in human history.
Very few countries didn't ask the Americans for their template when they wished to industrialize. Brazil may be the best example of one that did not, Norway is another a great example, the Quebec region of Canada, and the Las Vegas region of the United States didn't go the fossil fuel route either. Other than those regions...it seems all countries used the fossil fuel template to industrialize.
The fact that fossil fuels is the most used energy source is not because it is the most efficient, it is because everyone used the same template to industrialize (minus the exceptions noted above).
Brazil is the biggest exemption to this and if you're wondering why that is...it's actually an interesting history as to why. Brazil in the 1940s wished to industrialize, yet they didn't want to go the route the Americans chose and the Russians emulated...they wished to see if there were any alternatives. They called different engineers and were especially interested in the report of one man.
I seem to mention the following person a lot in this blog, I regard this man as sort of an inspirational figure I guess, the report Brazil's lead scientists were most interested in was the report of R. Buckminster Fuller who wrote them "A Compendium of Certain Engineering Principles Pertinent to Brazil's Control of Impending Acceleration in its Industrialization (1943)." Within the report (which has the coolest title for a report I've probably ever seen) Bucky told them Hydro Power and sugar fuel would be an interesting alternative to the fossil fuel template.
Brazil in the 1940s was under rule of dictator Getúlio Vargas who was one of those 1940s era proud dictator guys. Dictators think they're cool but in reality they just ruin everything for everyone else. Brazil didn't do much of anything under his rule let alone industrialize. It wasn't until the seventies that a new more intelligent and far less dictatorly Brazilian government re-perused Bucky's Compendium of Prognostications and phoned him up and flew him down to finalize implementation of this alternate industrialization template. People today wonder why Brazil is all Hydro power and is the world leader in vehicles powered by bio-fuels...but it's not lost to the history books as to why it is this way today. It was literally thanks to a Compendium of Prognostications made in 1943.
Fossil Fuels, as we all know, will eventually run out. For nature to replenish the petroleum deposits would mean it would need to re-pressurize, re-compress, and re-heat algae, vegetables and other junk until they re-fossilize and become the molecular form known as oil. Many are saying we've already hit the no-man's-land of "peak supply" but we're still just devising more obtrusive and destructive ways of reaching the hard-to-reach deposits which remain (bitumen/tar-sands for example).
It's also the most polluting form of energy. Coal burning gives off more air pollution than any other form by far, even mining the darned coal is a dangerous and dirty process that leaves workers with crippled lungs. Plus, coal gives off more radiation than nuclear plants during its burning process.
The most damaging thing science seems to be saying about this process is the Co2 emissions are causing havoc to the global system.
All in all, economically speaking all the infrastructure is set in place to use this form of energy but it is a limited supply and it is by far the most polluting form of energy.
Final Grade: D-
2) Nuclear Power
Renewable: No (but has a long long long life)
Pollution: Low (well, unless there's an accident then fuck)
Nuclear power if done right can be great. Yet, like fossil fuels it is not renewable, because you have to mine Uranium in order to amass fissile material to use in the plant. Uranium mines are all over the world and surprisingly they are not as dangerous to the workers as coal mines but they're still not a fun place to work. Miners in Mali for Areva are paid about a buck an hour to haul uranium out of the mines.
The workaround to this limited supply of uranium seems to be to use thorium (u-233) fuel cells with the uranium which according to nuke experts will give nuke energy the life span to energize our human lives for thousand of years.
Sounds great, at least a whole lot better than using loser-ass fossil fuels that's for fucking sure. Is there any downside to nuke energy? Yeah, there is.
Chernobyl and Fukushima spring to everyone's minds when you talk about this nuclear power. Everything's chill down at the nuke plant and then all of a sudden outta nowhere it's all NEVER MIND NEAR FUTURE EXPLOSION FUCK YOU ALL RIGHT NOW !!!
An accident in the plant will let loose radiation into an entire region. Now before people get too scared about nuke energy, you have to understand that nuclear radiation isn't as bad as many people think it is. A good chart to consult is the following,
Handy Nuke Chart: https://sslimgs.xkcd.com/blag/radiation.png
Radiation in the background is always there, all you naturalists who think you can get away from it are lying to yourselves. The fucking sun heats our planet through fucking radiation, if you don't like radiation then you'll have to hate the damn sun too.
That being said, being exposed to the "red" amounts in the above linked-to chart could be lethal, and being exposed for a long enough amount of time to "green" amounts will increase your risk of developing cancer.
The other fucked up thing about nuke energy is the by-product which has to buried. Honestly, nuke waste isn't as huge a deal as people make it out to be (although I probably wouldn't want that shit buried in my backyard)...nuke waste if handled properly won't harm nobody (probably). The bad thing is that this shit can be used to make nuclear bombs...therefore...if you want third world countries to industrialize and you give them reactors and uranium to complete that task...those countries will also develop a nuclear arsenal capable of blowing up the fucking planet. India and Pakistan threaten to blow each other up every damn day almost. Is it really a great idea to help say a third world country like Afghanistan industrialize by giving those psycho drug dealers reactors and nuclear weapons? You think the Taliban with nukes is going to be a good idea? No fucking way, dude.
The other shit thing about nuke energy is you need to cool the reactors so they don't overheat (and then overload and meltdown)...meaning they need to run in-house water cooling to preform the cooling process...and this process eats up almost 66% of the power a nuke plant creates! A fully functioning nuke plant loses 2/3 of the power it generates to cooling itself down...only 1/3 of the power generated by nuke plants is used by humans.
That thorium shit does indeed sound super-duper cool but they currently have no reactors (other than the outdated Candu) which has ever even run a test with thorium (u-233). Yes thorium would give nuke energy the ability to run for thousand of years but at this moment none of the world's current models are designed to use this material properly.
Final Grade: C-
Pollution: Very Low
Potential: Good....but way down the line.
Here we be talking about Wind, Solar, Vermin Supreme's proposed zombie treadmill power plants, geo-thermal, and maybe even that kooky Tesla energy/death ray Magnifying Transmitter thingy-ma-bob that people love to talk about (maybe I'll just skip that one).
Does wind suck? Yes. Only hippies can dig that windmill shit...those towers generate shit and are a waste of space at their current tech level. Ask Germany, they'll tell you how much Wind sucks ass, balls, weiners, and vaginas.
Solar? Solar has good promise. I dig this shit. Right now the panels use too much land and generate very little but every single day science is designing panels that are more efficient and capture more and more energy. My computer that I'm using right now has been running the Harvard Clean Energy program on BOINC for a long time and apparently these calculations are saving scientists decades of time and really getting some good momentum going in the field. Haha, I like their screen saver too when my computer runs that program. It's cute. Solar's got some GREAT potential, g. Serious. Serious.
Vermin Supreme's Zombie Power? I dunno 'bout this one. It's tough to pull off. For starters, you'd have to really delve deep into the voudoun to figure out how to zombify a dude or chick's brain. I'm talking some real Baron Samedi shit to totally zombify someone's damned brain. Even if you could learn the voudoun skills necessary to zombify a mass of humans...you'd have to constantly feed them brains in order for them to have energy to run the treadmills that run the turbines of the Zombie Power Plant. All in all, the brains you'd have to harvest would make this energy template a difficult option. Thumbs down on this.
The rest? I dunno, who cares...Solar is the one with the most potential but as of right now these methods simply are not tangible options. In 100 years? Yes.
Final Score: C (mostly due to solar's potential in the future)
Pollution: Pretty low, yo.
We talked a bit in the fossil fuels section about Brazil, Nevada , Quebec, and Norway all going Hydro and loving it. It is a very low polluting and 100% renewable energy. You make a big dam, you let it loose and the water turns turbines and boom you got a bunch of Tera-Watts going. It's pretty cool.
People say there's no potential here, that we've capped out, and there's no more room for large scale dams. Reports I've seen from various sources, including the World Bank, suggest this is not the case at all.
Theoretically if all the possible dam locations were built all over world (which is expensive but 110% do-able and feasible) Hydro power could generate over 40,000 TerraWatt hours of yearly energy production. In the start of this article we clearly saw that the world currently needs 20,000 Terrawatt hours of energy per year. Meaning, if we maximized the hydro electric output globally we could generate TWICE the amount of power we currently use.
Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Australia, Europe, Russia, and everywhere else could dam their basins and produce double the energy output needed to run earth. Seriously. The World Bank knows this too. The reasons they state for not giving loans to countries to do this is apparently it is not "economically feasible" enough to do so.
Look, these TerraWatt energy numbers are REAL numbers that represent the energy we could produce, it's not fake fictitious gimmick numbers like currency. Currencies DON'T EXIST... they are just numbers for a fun game humans play. Apparently in today's mixed-up world, pretend numbers are more important than actual numbers. Dollars, Pounds, Rupees, Pesos, Bottle Caps, Feathers, and all these non-existent pretend numbers are taken more seriously than terrawatt-hours (which actually do fucking exist).
We all know we can literally have a low-polluting, renewable, global energy source which will output double the input we currently need/use. The reason we're not doing this is because it is not "economically feasible" for us to do it. Dang.
You know something, with the advancing technology into agriculture, energy, and medicine...we are actually dismantling supply-and-demand. We are ripping apart the mentality that there's a scarce number of resources on earth and only the privileged can have them. We will create more food than we can ever need forever, there will come a time when we will create more energy than we will ever need forever...and yet, we are still trying to apply these jabroni-ass economic principles such as "supply-and-demand" to resources that are becoming infinite. How can supply exist on an infinite renewable resource? It simply can not.
We are advancing toward a future where every single last human of the 7+ billion humans on earth can and will live like a "millionaire" with access to all the food, water, energy, and data being made available to all 7+ billion humans on earth.
Can a globally renewable and low polluting world grid of power be achieved using hydro dams? From what I've read it seems to be the case, the problem will be implementing it.
Implementing hydro dams is not fun at all and it is costly...but the end result (if done right) will be amazing. Building the dams is very dangerous though. For example, before China built the 3-Gorges Dam they tried a previous attempt where they cut too many corners and flooded an entire region (who knows, with their terrible history of human rights maybe they fucking did it on purpose).
Due to the land-use and possible mishaps whilst building the dams, Hydro cannot be given a perfect score...but it will be the best score of all the entries.
Final Grade: B+
Post Rating Assessment
Well, I think with all the data we have, Hydro seems to be a very good option at this juncture of humanistic time. I gave it the bestest rating...I like Hydro. I live in one of those areas mentioned that use it, I am currently running this here computer-box unit out of Quebec in jolly old Canada. So yeah, I dig it. Hydro power is cool.
Nuke would be decent for a coupla thousand years but with all the radiation and the possibility that kooky nations would build bombs and bomb the shit out of fucking people...I don't like it as much.
Oil? Fuck oil.
Coal? No way, Jose. Yeah right.
Solar got the jack to be a highly touted rookie prospect, no doubt. I hope we can further improve the efficiency of those super-slick lookin' mirror panels. They look friggin' cool too those mirrors.