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The evolution of the world's energy composition

The evolution of the world's energy composition

  • Categories:Industrial Trend
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  • Time of issue:2018-08-23 08:45
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The evolution of the world's energy composition

(Summary description)Energy classification involves a variety of division schemes, and the division methods and terminology are often different. This article first classifies traditional (basic) energy and new energy. The former includes fossil energy (coal, oil, natural gas) and primary power such as nuclear power and hydropower. New energy includes wind energy and solar energy (photovoltaic) used on a large scale in production, as well as biomass energy and geothermal energy.

  • Categories:Industrial Trend
  • Author:
  • Origin:
  • Time of issue:2018-08-23 08:45
  • Views:

The government can do something to promote the optimization of the energy structure and become one of the driving forces for the evolution of the energy structure. This kind of power is more obvious in the evolution from the oil age to the post-oil age. The optimization of the energy structure must rely on the development of science and technology.

In energy research, the development history of different types of energy and their proportion in the overall composition of energy are very important issues. Specific research sometimes needs to distinguish the composition of energy output and consumption. The composition in the article generally refers to its consumption composition. .

Energy classification involves a variety of division schemes, and the division methods and terminology are often different. This article first classifies traditional (basic) energy and new energy. The former includes fossil energy (coal, oil, natural gas) and primary power such as nuclear power and hydropower. New energy includes wind energy and solar energy (photovoltaic) used on a large scale in production, as well as biomass energy and geothermal energy.

In different research fields, people divide social and economic development into different stages or eras from different perspectives. According to the characteristics of energy composition, especially energy with obvious advantages and dominant positions, the energy development of the world/country can be divided into different eras.

From the age of firewood to the age of coal

Learning to use fire has greatly accelerated the evolution of mankind, during which almost all energy used for life and production comes from biomass wood and straw. The use of water energy (such as water mills, waterwheels) and other energy sources are rare, so energy scientists unambiguously call it the fuelwood era.

Charcoal made from firewood makes people notice that coal emits more heat per unit volume/weight than firewood. After the invention of the steam engine, the use of coal increased significantly, and the first industrial revolution broke out. At the beginning of the 20th century, coal surpassed fuelwood and occupied an absolute advantage in energy composition, and energy entered the coal age. If the accumulation of long-term agricultural civilization has brought about the destruction of large areas of forests and the desertification of corresponding areas, then large-scale urban agglomerations, large-scale industries and transportation that use coal as combustion and power will bring serious pollution to the atmosphere and the environment. The problem is highlighted.

The coming of the oil age

People's mining of underground mineral resources has promoted the understanding of hydrocarbons (petroleum). Due to its ease of transportation and utilization, liquid crude oil (oil) and gaseous natural gas (gas) have been used on a large scale. What needs special explanation is that the word petroleum is often given different meanings in domestic and foreign, terminology and colloquialism. In our daily language, petroleum (petroleum) can be a combination of crude oil and natural gas, but when it is emphasized that it is a liquid hydrocarbon produced in the ground that is different from gas, or is used in conjunction with natural gas, the term petroleum only refers to crude oil. (Oil).

The "Second Industrial Revolution" marked by the internal combustion engine has further accelerated the development of human society. Petroleum, with its heat load surpassing coal, cooperates with the internal combustion engine to go to the world. After World War II, new oil discoveries in the Middle East made it possible for the world's oil production to increase rapidly, and developed countries in Europe and the United States began to enter the oil era. In the world’s energy structure, coal and petroleum (petroleum) have evolved from being evenly divided (e.g. in the early 1960s) to a significant advantage in oil and gas (e.g., in 1970, oil and gas accounted for 62.5% of primary energy and significantly exceeded coal’s share of 35.2%). The world energy as a whole has also begun to enter the oil age.

We can analyze the changes in energy composition after entering the oil age from several representative years. In the composition of primary energy consumption in 1950, coal, oil, gas, and others (including hydropower, nuclear power) were 61.1%, 27.0%, 9.8%, and 2.1%, respectively. When the proportion of oil reached its peak in 1973, the proportions listed above were as follows 26.0%, 50.4%, 17.0%, 6.6%. During this period, coal decreased by 35.1%, oil increased by 23.4%, natural gas increased by 7.2%, and others increased by 4.5%. Obviously, the rapid increase in oil consumption has led to a substantial reduction in the proportion of coal consumption.

In contrast, in the composition of primary energy consumption included in new energy in 2010, the proportions of the above four items were 29.5%, 33.7%, 23.7%, and 13.1%, respectively. In 2016, the proportions were 28.1% and 33.3%. , 24.1%, 14.5%. During the period, the proportion of coal decreased by 1.4%, oil decreased by 0.4%, natural gas increased by 0.4%, and others increased by 1.4%.

The above-mentioned global statistical data comparison illustrates several problems.

(1) The development of natural gas is obviously lagging behind that of oil. It has only accelerated since the late 1960s. Since 1973, the rate of natural gas development has surpassed that of oil, but until 2016, its status in the energy composition was still significantly lower than that of oil, and the proportion of natural gas that year was even lower. coal.

(2) In recent years, the decrease in the proportion of coal and oil corresponds to the increase in the proportion of natural gas and other energy sources. Among them, the contribution of new energy (mainly photovoltaic and wind power) has increased significantly since 2005, and its proportion of the total energy has increased from 1.3% in 2010 to 3.2% in 2016, and only counted as commodity production. Material fuels accounted for only 0.04% of primary energy consumption in 2016.

(3) Changes in the proportion of various types of energy in the energy composition may fluctuate. The most obvious is that coal rebounded from 2005 to 2015 against the background of the overall decline. This also reflects the imbalance of development, which is mainly caused by the rapid increase in energy consumption in developing countries (mainly China) and coal is the main cause.

(4) As time goes by, the decrease in the proportion of coal and oil does not mean a decrease in their quantity. The peak of coal consumption did not appear until 2014, and until now, oil consumption is still increasing overall.

We can subdivide the petroleum era into two periods based on the relative changes in the status of oil and gas, each of which is dominated by crude oil and natural gas. With this, until now, from a global perspective, it has not yet been able to enter the "natural gas period."

Take a closer look at the countries that are leading the way in energy composition optimization. In 2016, the total oil and natural gas proportions of the three countries in the North American Free Trade Zone were 37.5% and 30.8%, respectively. In the same year, the total oil and natural gas proportions of Europe and the CIS countries were 37.5% and 32.3% respectively. Taking the above two regions together, the proportions of oil and natural gas in 2016 were 34.1% and 32.1%, respectively. The proportion of oil is still greater than that of gas.

Throughout the world, by 2016, only Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and other countries will consume more natural gas than oil. Among them, except for Belarus and Ukraine, where gas pipelines pass through foreign countries, they are all traditional Natural gas producing and exporting country. Therefore, it can only be said that a small number of countries have entered the natural gas period. We can predict that the world may enter a "natural gas period" in the future from the decline in oil consumption and the proportion of primary energy consumption, and the rise in natural gas. However, until 2016, the figures indicate that it is impossible to use it in the short term (such as before 2025). The proportion of natural gas exceeds that of oil. According to BP's forecast in 2017, this transition point may appear around 2040. What some people call the "golden age of natural gas" in the near term can only be understood as a period of great (accelerated) development of natural gas.

From the coal age to the oil age, fossil energy consumption has grown by orders of magnitude, and it is also an era of rapid development of human civilization and productivity. However, as the demand of human beings from nature increases at an acceleration, it brings increasing environmental damage. In addition to the visible particulate matter (such as PM10) caused by coal combustion, the accumulation of various fossil energy sources also brings inhalable particulate matter (such as PM2.5) and carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, methane, etc. A series of pollutants, acid rain, haze, and greenhouse effect caused by their "photochemical reaction" cause more serious damage to the environment. As human beings increasingly pursue health, the call for energy development and environmental friendliness has become stronger and stronger. Environmental protection has become a binding condition for energy composition that can almost parallel the level of productivity development.

With the tremendous progress of science and technology and the rapid development of productivity, people began to predict that with the continued economic development, corresponding to the popular applications of computers, cloud data, and robots, especially in order to meet environmental protection requirements, a new era of energy should emerge. . The new energy at this stage mainly refers to wind power and solar power, and in some countries it also includes geothermal, biomass, and waste power generation. More efficient new energy sources that are still in laboratory research and even basic theoretical research will gradually enter commercial operations. Looking at the energy composition in the late 21st century, it is possible that basic energy is still the main body, fossil energy and non-fossil energy are simultaneously developed, and a variety of new energy sources account for an increasing share of development. In this regard, the generally accepted name is "post-oil era".

Evolutionary characteristics of energy composition

As human beings demand higher and higher quality of life, especially the high development of productivity, energy composition is also required to develop in the direction of continuous optimization, that is, energy production (supply) and use (consumption) methods are more efficient, convenient and environmentally friendly. . High efficiency is reflected in the calorific value of energy per unit volume/weight, and also in the comparison of costs and benefits required for production and use. Convenience is reflected in easy availability, and more prominently in the transportation and storage of energy carriers, the latter being particularly important for users on the move. The optimization of energy composition is also reflected in the increasingly extensive and in-depth application of secondary energy. There are very few primary energy sources that are directly used without processing and transformation. A large amount of primary energy is converted into electricity. A considerable part of crude oil and natural gas is converted into a wide range of oil and chemical products, and some natural gas is also processed into liquefied gas (LNG) with greater energy density and more convenient transportation.

It is the development of productive forces that has generated the impetus to promote changes in the energy composition, and the optimization of the energy composition has guaranteed and promoted the great development of production and society and the great progress of human civilization brought about by the industrial revolution.

What I want to emphasize here is that the conversion of this kind of power to the optimization of energy composition is mainly promoted through the laws of market economy and the "invisible hands" of competition and survival of the fittest. This is particularly evident in the emergence of the capitalist mode of production, especially in the process of high development. This involves the "other hands" outside the market-the role of government policies. The government’s correct policy is based on the understanding of the long-term and overall interests of mankind, based on the scientific judgment of the impact of social production and energy development and utilization on the ecological environment, and can make decisions higher than the specific market operators, specific production and consumers. Analysis and judgment. Therefore, the government can make a difference in promoting the optimization of the energy structure and become one of the driving forces for the evolution of the energy composition. This kind of power is more obvious in the evolution from the oil age to the post-oil age.

In recent years, Chinese and foreign practices have also provided a lot of new lessons, which are prominently manifested in the following two aspects.

(1) The government's promotion policies should use as few indicators and plans as possible to interfere with specific energy operations, and force certain types of energy to replace another type of energy at a certain time, and most of them should be governed by law. This is achieved through market operations under economic policies and environmental protection requirements. Taking the most commonly used subsidy method as an example, it should mainly support scientific research for the development of clean energy, and the purpose of new energy production is to help him gain market competitiveness as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will promote the growth of the seedlings, the more you will be on your behalf, the half the effort will be done, and the haste to fail.

(2) There is a process of understanding whether government policies are in line with reality. It is necessary to gradually explore and improve them in practice. It is not possible to "fix the world with one hammer," let alone "one size fits all" to complex things.

The evolution of energy composition is unbalanced. Almost all countries with non-fossil energy greater than or nearly equal to the world average (14.9%) are economically developed countries in North America and Europe, especially in the Nordic countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany. The main non-fossil energy sources are wind power. Nuclear power and hydropower in Norway, Sweden, and France account for more than 40% of all energy. In other words, the basic (traditional) energy of these 6 countries all have an absolute advantage, and the renewable (new) energy is less than 12%. Among them, Russia, which has extremely rich basic energy resources and has suffered economic development in recent years, is only less than 0.1%.

The countries where coal still holds an important position are mainly distributed in the Asia-Pacific region, and its overall proportion is 49.4%, which is significantly higher than the world average of 28.1%. This is mainly because China (mainland, the same below), India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and other five major coal-consuming countries, their proportions of coal are 61.8%, 56.9%, 26.9%, 28.5%, 35.7%. . China and India account for 50.6% and 11.0% of the world's coal consumption, respectively, which has a great impact on the world's energy consumption ratio.

The optimization of the energy structure must rely on the development of science and technology. One by one, new theories and new energy are put forward, and each piece of new technology is gradually matured and perfected through arduous exploration. Only then can it move from the laboratory to the industrial production and energy market after several gradually enlarged scale intermediate tests. Mature markets equally accept all kinds of innovations and explorations, allowing them to try and make mistakes, and compare them, so that they can ensure the survival of the fittest in development.

The process of continuous development and improvement of new energy and new technologies is uneven in time and unbalanced in space. Since the optimization of the energy composition and the replacement of the energy era are aimed at promoting economic development and improving the well-being of the people, it is necessary to respect its objective law of survival of the fittest and gradual completion through the market, strive to reduce the side effects caused by excessive shocks, and emphasize steady development and stability. Seeking progress. This can understand what He Lifeng, the head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at the press conference of the 13th National People's Congress after experiencing a severe gas shortage, and the meaning of "energy structural reforms to achieve a magnificent turn in a subtle and calm manner". .

On the whole, due to the small base of new energy in the early stage, its growth is not very large and the annual growth rate can be very large, but in the middle and late stages its annual growth rate will be greatly reduced; when one or a batch of new energies become mature It will first develop rapidly in advanced regions and fields with a good foundation. The optimized rapid development period will make people feel that the energy composition is changing rapidly in a relatively short period of time, and everyone is used to calling it a "revolution."

This article is transferred from Energy News Network


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