Module Code: BT131 Module Title: International Transport & Sustainable Business Assignment Title: Energy crisis and solutions in transport sector Student Name: Yina Tan Student Number: 1012251 Module Tutor: Peter Wells & Paul Nieuwenhuis Assignment Lengths: 1864 words Submission Date: 10/11/2010 Introduction This assignment mainly focuses on the fiercest problem human beings encountered presently—energy crisis. Then it has explained the 3 factors resulting in this severe scenario, containing soaring population, economy growth as well as disparity and imbalance between energy consumption and production.
As one of the industries which consume a large amount of energy, it is urgent for transport sector to figure out some methods to cope with energy crisis. Alternative energy sources, energy-saving vehicles, public transport system, optimizing transport structure, information technology are part of the solutions to this issue. On contemporary society humans are facing an unprecedented challenge—energy crisis; there is wide agreement that our Earth cannot sustain current levels of material and energy consumption, let alone increased levels.
According to the latest statistics from BP Statistical Review of World Energy (2010), total world proved reserves of oil is 1333. 1 thousand million barrels with consumption of 38. 821 thousand million barrels by the end of 2009; total world proved reserves of natural gas is 187. 49 trillion with cubic metres with consumption of 2. 6531 trillion cubic metres by the end of 2009, while total world proved reserves of coal is 826001 million tons with consumption of 3278. 3 million tons by the end of 2009.
In accordance with calculation, the proven reserves of oil, natural gas and coal could sustain the current production rate for 41, 71 and 252 years, respectively. | |Oil |Natural gas |Coal | | |(thousand million barrels) |(trillion cubic metres) |(million tons) | |Energy preserved 2009 |1333. 1 |187. 49 |826001 | |Energy consumed 2009 |38. 821 |2. 531 |3278. 3 | |Sustained years |41 |71 |252 | An Energy Crisis is any great shortfall (or price rise) in the supply of energy to an economy. It mainly refers to the shortage of oil, electricity and other natural resources. Energy crisis can often lead to economy recessions. Particularly, from the transport sector, the price of petrol/gasoline for cars and other vehicles rises will result in reduced consumer confidence and expenditure.
One factor driving energy crisis is the ever growing world’s population: in 1950, there were 2. 5 billion people, while in 2010 there are 6. 9 billion and it may reach 9 billion people on Earth before the middle of this century according to 2008 UN Population Estimate. Besides the rise in per capita energy and material consumption which, in the 50 years, has soared faster than the human population (figure1). Figure1: Population growth and global energy consumption from 1850 to 2000 (Source from http://openlearn. open. ac. uk/mod/oucontent/view. php? d=399900) The other factor of this issue is the economic growth. From the history of mankind’s economic development, it is evident that economic growth relies on non-renewable fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil rather than renewable materials. Actually, since the coal, gas and oil energy was so cheap that the whole world had consumed and even wasted too much during the previous economic activities; global energy demand has grown gradually every year and now the world has become over-depended on the rapidly depleted non-renewable resources.
The increasing disparity and imbalance between energy consumption and energy production among different countries and area is also one reason why energy crisis happens. For instance, Middle East owns the most abundant oil resources while the Middle-East countries actually do not consume much, so some other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom purchase the crude oil from them. So a conflict between exported and imported countries or a rise in the price can both result in energy crisis. As abundant and economical energy is the basis for human urvival and modern civilization as well as the most fundamental driving force of world development and economic growth, energy crisis will result in serious consequences like world economic collapse, the destruction of civilization and the biosphere; and there will be deuce to pay. It has been argued by Bearden (2000) that the energy crisis will converge to a catastrophic collapse of the world economy in coming several years; as the collapse of the Western economies nears, one may expect catastrophic stress on the 160 developing nations as the developed nations are forced to dramatically curtail orders.
Bearden also mentioned that “prior to the final economic collapse, the stress on nations will have increased the intensity and number of their conflicts, to the point where the arsenals of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) now possessed by some 25 nations, are almost certain to be released”. And since human beings need energy to social progress and development and creatures require matter from the environment to be existent and alive, energy crisis can also contribute to civilization and biosphere destruction.
According to Bearden, energy crisis is the greatest worldwide threat of all times and unless mankind find a reasonable and effective way to address energy problem—“rapidly replacing a substantial part of the power derived from oil by electrical power freely derived from the vacuum”—human beings will suffer the horrible final “Great Armageddon”. In fact, present energy crisis is hard for people to resolve but it will become even more difficult if the public continues ignoring it.
So it is the time to devise a sustainable development plan. The sustainable development is defined by Brundtland Commission as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As it was mentioned by Wackernagel and Rees (1996) in their book, aiming to live and develop sustainably, people must ensure that they utilize the precious energy no more quickly than it can be renewed and discharge wastes no more quickly than they can be absorbed.
Fortunately, in recent years there has been increasing concern by various nations over the energy crisis; scientists and specialists from different field are trying to work out the problem or at least ease the threat. In transport sector, there seems to be several solutions to energy crisis threat. The first strategy to cope with energy crisis is to utilize some alternative energy sources. At present, alternative energy sources including biomass, solar energy, hydrogen fuel, alcohol (methanol and ethanol) fuel are considering by the experts in transport sector.
Recently in Europe the biomass produced by bioenergy crops such as Oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet has been recognized as a key resource for future energy supplier since it is claimed by Rowe that at the European level, up to 14% of liquid transport fuel demand could be met from biological sources by 2020. And according to Rowe, Street, and Taylor, biomass has advantages over other renewable resources as it does not suffer from intermittency of supply, and in the case of liquid fuels few other options are available in the short-to-medium term future.
Hydrogen fuel is also a reasonable option as growing budgets for related research show. For instance, the United States government has allocated 1. 7 billion US$ to hydrogen fuel initiative set up which include developing fuel cell cars powered by hydrogen and establishing the related hydrogen infrastructure. Similar activities of alternative energy resource research can be found in Japan, who, as is known to all, has scarcities in most natural resources.
Another method is to invent and develop energy-conserving and energy-efficient vehicles, which means the vehicle can travel further while consume less fuels and energy. HEV is a proper example in this case. HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle), a low-polluting and low-petroleum consuming automobile, uses gasoline (petrol) or diesel to power internal-combustion engines while it employs electric batteries to power electric motors. It is suggested by Katrasnik in 2010 that HEV has emerged as the most viable short-to-medium solution for improving energy conversion efficiency of road vehicles.
Besides, as Dagsvik and his colleagues (2002) mentioned, in recent years the major automobile manufacturers have spent an increasing share of their Research & Development expenditures to develop alternative fuel vehicles. The alternative fuel vehicle is a vehicle running on energy encompassing liquefied natural gas (LNG), compressed natural gas (CNG), solar power, hydrogen, alcohol, propane gas, rather than traditional petroleum fuels (petrol or diesel).
Compared with fossil fuel automobiles, alternative fuel cars are more environmentally friendly and long-term economical. There is no denying that the high energy-consuming vehicles will be kicked out from market in the coming future. Provision of effective and efficient public transport system is also a reliable and reasonable way to save energy. As people all know, public transport is a much greener mode than private transport. Apart from the traditional public transport methods like bus and train, lately carpooling also becomes popular among people.
Energy consumption can be cut remarkably by the means of carpooling since this strategy avoids people travelling alone and obvious the energy use per person for the journal is reduced. It is both beneficial for public and individuals. Today many cities, especially metropolises, have adopted carpooling method because it not only saves travelling cost but also evade traffic congestion, which indirectly decrease the energy consumption in waiting Additionally, optimizing transport structure is dispensable for transport sector.
For short-distance delivery, right route option can conserve energy by reducing the transit time of transport. For long-distance transmit, choice of best way to delivery will definitely lessen the total energy consumption, sometimes multiple transport (the combination of two or more transport mode including water transport, rail transport, truck transport, air transport and pipeline transport) saves people most. And the transport sector should ensure both the optimization in the integrated transport network and the rationalization in each single transport mode.
Improving vehicle loading rate and avoiding empty load is very crucial when designing a transport structure. Last but not least, unnecessary transport can be reduced or eliminated by the advantage of electronic information technology. With the ever-powerful information technology, more and more things can be done through the Internet or Ethernet; therefore people do not bother to waste energy. In addition, with the help of information technology, it is convenient for the people to share real time updating information.
Taking the GPS (Global Positioning System) as an example, with the information it can assist the driver to find the shortest distance from one place to another and avoid them being lost. Certainly it saves energy for the driver. Conclusion Overall, since world energy consumption has been increasing all the time and will definitely continue increasing for the growing population and economy, some strategy must be taken to prevent this situation become even worse. In order to address the energy crisis problem, people related to the transport sector should save present energy and find new energy at the same time.
At present, approaches such as using alternative energy sources to replace oil; producing Hybrid Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Vehicles to improve energy utilization, effectiveness and efficiency; developing reliable public transport system like carpooling and raising citizen’s awareness of choosing public transport; optimizing transport structure to organize the whole transport process as well as reduce unnecessary energy waste in delivery; also making use of electronic information technology share data in a virtual way other than send and receive the information in real life.
The above methods provide people the possibilities to struggle with the serious problem. And new technology from transport sector to work out the energy crisis has still been waiting people to discover in the coming future.