Southeastern Section - 60th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2011)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


SHEW, Roger, UNCW, 601 S. College Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403,

The Energy Information Agency projects an energy consumption increase of 14% and 49% by 2035 for the U.S. and world, respectively. The major increase in consumption is in the Non-OECD countries, which became the leaders in consumption for the first time in 2007. Of course the leaders in this increase are China and India. And importantly, although there are signs of decreasing demand for liquid fuels, the projection for all fossil fuel use in the U.S., which is mirrored by world demand, shows only a minor reduction from 84% today to 78% in 2035. The remainder is supplied by renewables and nuclear. Of these, renewable energy in the U.S. is estimated to grow the most from the current 8.45% (includes biofuels) to >16% by 2035. Favorable legislation and incentives could increase renewable usage by up to 60% (EIA, 2010).

What does this mean for energy supplies, price, and emissions? And what really needs to be done to have a significant change in the energy mix? We know the issues related to coal emissions, but it supplies 50% of our electricity. And we know the issues of emissions with and our dependency on foreign crude oil, but there are over 250 million vehicles in the U.S. and over 50 million new vehicles produced globally each year. Will new natural gas supplies from black shale be the answer, since it produces 45% less greenhouse gases than coal? Or will the gas bubble burst on these new supplies? Will wind or biofuels be able to replace a significant percentage of electricity and fuels? What about conservation and efficiencies? The steps and the solutions are hotly debated but the energy issue remains. One example of the complexity of the issue revolves around wind power. The Department of Energy estimates that the U.S. could provide 20% of our electricity from wind by 2030. However, this would require >500 large wind farms the size of the offshore Massachusetts Cape Wind Project (130 wind turbines); the debate on that project has lasted a decade. Energy calculations for North Carolina will illustrate the issues and possibilities for meeting energy demand from conventional and unconventional sources.