The total world energy demand is 400 quadrillion BTUs (about the amount of energy in a match). Of this amount, roughly three-fourths of the energy is provided by fossil fuels. Oil accounts for the largest share, while coal and natural gas are responsible for the remaining two-fourths. By 2023, world energy consumption is expected to increase by 50 percent. That would make renewable energy sources insufficient to meet the growing demand.
New research has found that solar and wind energy could replace fossil fuels completely by the mid-2030s. This means that by then, solar power and wind power could provide more than enough electricity to power the entire world. That would be enough to produce over six petawatt hours of energy annually – more than 100 times more than the world uses today.
But the downside of these technologies is their impact on our planet. They require massive amounts of land and disrupt natural habitats. An aging natural gas well producing 60,000 cubic feet per day generates 20 times more energy per square meter than a single solar panel on a roof. Meanwhile, a nuclear power plant generates 56 watts per square meter – eight times more than solar photovoltaic installations. Environmental groups, including the Nature conservancy, criticize this energy sprawl.
Renewable energy technologies have steadily declined in cost, with the average price of solar panels and wind turbines dropping 70 percent between 2010 and 2017. Costs for generating electricity from wind and solar power have decreased by 66 percent since 2009. The cost of building these technologies will likely continue to drop over the next 25 years as new technologies are developed, and companies benefit from economies of scale. However, fossil fuels will remain expensive for the foreseeable future due to various factors.
Electricity from renewable sources has numerous benefits. The cost of electricity generated from renewable resources is relatively low, and it is a good option for communities that are concerned about their environment. However, it is necessary to allocate adequate subsidies to support renewable energy development. Moreover, wind and solar power plants should have adequate storage capacity. By 2050, electricity produced from renewable sources could account for about 80 percent of all electricity in the UAE.