A Mighty Energy Need
Since 2010, global population has increased by more than a billion.
At the start of the last decade, the number sat at 6.98B but as of the most recent count in Jan. 2023, Earth's population is currently at 8.04B. Many projections have us reaching 9B within another 13 years and topping a full 10B souls on planet Earth by 2055.
Overpopulation is its own problem but that is another discussion for another day. The fact is every new person who comes into the world has needs. Even just talking into account the bare minimum of food, shelter and clothing, all of this is still going to take energy, in some form, to generate them. Each new birth increases our global energy need.
In 2021, global electricity generation amounted to 2752.52 Terawatt-hours (TWh), which rose from 2157.07 TWh in 2010. That's a 28 percent increase in global electricity generation in the span of just a decade. On top of that, the global energy demand is projected to see a 9 percent growth rate year to year through at least 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.
The question is, where is this energy going to come from? That answer may not be as cut and dry as many might assume. As energy needs continue to increase and as fossil fuels, true to their name, are increasingly seen as the way of the past, both industries and governments are exploring renewable and more efficient ways to generate the needed fuels.
As a matter of fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, renewable sources of energy like Biogas, hydropower, wind and solar will account for 24% of the USA's energy supply in 2023, more than double what it was a decade ago.
Speaking of Biogas and Renewable Natural Gas, as everything else we've talked about increases proportionally with each new birth, so too does the amount of solid waste generated. Each new birth in the USA specifically adds a significant amount of solid waste generation. Each American citizen generates an average of 4.4 lbs. of solid waste each day, almost double the global average of 2.6 lbs. per day. According to WorldAtlas, the US actually produces one third of all solid waste on Earth.
With perpetually growing landfills and some American waste management companies struggling to keep up with their communities, anaerobic digestion and Renewable Natural Gas is seeing explosive growth in use across the world as a way to not only generate renewable energy but as a way to safely and cost-effectively handle the billions of pounds of waste now being created across the country each day.
Unlike population and global energy needs, it would be unrealistic to assume budgets for energy projects and plants will also reliably enjoy such sustained growth in the coming decades. Because of this, energy sources like Biogas, wind power, hydropower etc. will continue to look more and more attractive to companies and governments moving forward.
Every day, the amount of energy we need to generate grows. How will we meet those needs? Projections and graphs won't do it alone. It will take decisive action based on good science. That may come from someplace unexpected: an unforeseen technological breakthrough perhaps. It may come from falling back into comfortable routines until our hand is forced. It may come from the renewable energy sources we've discussed. Either way, I'm confident we will rise to the challenge, for the sake of our future.