Part 5: World Energy Needs


Reversing the Devastation of Globalization

 

“We know, speaking broadly on this point, that if a developing nation, for example, is to reach the levels of sustainable population-density obtained in industrialized nations, those developing economies must achieve approximately the per capita energy-throughput of industrialized economies.”

— Lyndon LaRouche, A Fifty-Year Development Policy for the Indian-Pacific Oceans Basin, EIR, 1983.

 

Based on this physical economic reality, in 1983 LaRouche forecast the mass murderous consequences of failing to achieve the energy-flux-density development required for economies globally—unfortunately, LaRouche’s forecast was correct. 

To ensure this mass death is not continued, a new global economic system is required, premised upon facilitating the type of economic development programs long advocated for by LaRouche, and measured using his metric of energy flux density. This requires we end the current globalized system of open markets and mass murderous CO₂ reduction policies, and create a global economic system centered on long-term agreements between sovereign nations to facilitate the type of 30-year development potentialities (typified by what South Korea and China were able to achieve, as discussed in earlier parts of this series), and which enables countries to protect their development from the global oligarchical forces looting the world behind the masks of “free trade,” “globalization,” and “environmentalism.” 

While a comprehensive assessment of the capital goods requirements for this development would be an immense undertaking, LaRouche’s metric of energy flux density makes assessing the required level of development more manageable. Under a domestic policy of rejecting globalism and investing in a new industrial and manufacturing base, this represents a huge economic market, and moral imperative, for the United States.

 

Know Your Assumptions

Based on the considerations discussed in part two—defining national economic energy flux density—we can generate estimates for the global energy requirements over the next generation, if the world is to reverse the disastrous effects of globalization and implement the type of program LaRouche called for. To arrive at specific estimates, we have to decide how to address each of the key considerations. 

First, we account for population density by referring to the comparison of the U.S.A., France, Germany, the U.K., and Japan discussed in part two. From that assessment, at current levels of technology we estimate that a unit of energy or electricity consumption per capita in a nation with 500 people per square kilometer is about twice as effective as in a nation with 50 people per square kilometer. When taking into account this effect of population density, we call this the “weighted” energy or electricity consumption per capita. 

Next, we assume that nations currently suffering the lowest levels of energy or electricity consumption per capita should expect to see the fastest rates of growth—because moderate investments in energy and electricity infrastructure will provide such significant benefits. Based on what we see from the referenced cases of China and South Korea’s transitions out of energy poverty (discussed in part three), we assume a maximum annual rate of growth for the most energy-starved nations (10,000 kilowatt-hours primary energy consumption per capita per year, or less) of 7.5%, and for the most electricity-starved nations (1,000 kilowatt-hours electricity consumption per capita per year, or less) we assume a 10% annual growth rate—accounting for the fact that electricity consumption will continue to become a larger share of total energy consumption as technological progress continues. 

Additionally, we abandon the view that so-called “developed” nations do not need continued progress toward higher energy flux density. 

For industrialized and post-industrial nations, we assume the minimum rate of annual growth of primary energy consumption per capita will be 1.5% (for countries with levels of 75,000 kilowatt-hours primary energy consumption per capita per year, or more), and for electricity consumption per capita we estimate a 3% minimum annual growth rate (for any country with levels of 5,000 kilowatt-hours electricity consumption per capita per year, or more). These estimates are consistent with the growth rates expected for the U.S.A. under the Seaborg plan for the John F. Kennedy administration. 

Next, to account for population growth, we use the United Nations Population Division’s median projections for population changes in individual nations through 2050. 

Unfortunately, energy and electricity data are not available for all nations. Therefore, we only include nations with continuous annual energy and electricity consumption values starting in 1990 (providing a baseline to compare future perspective growth over the next 30 years (to 2050) against what has happened over the past 30 years). Additionally, at the time of writing, the most recent year of energy and electricity data for most nations is 2013 or 2014, so we use the average of the annual growth rate of 2009 to 2013 for each individual country to extrapolate the estimated values for 2014 to 2021. This might distort the picture a bit, but not much compared to what we are interested in: the actual requirements to adequately develop the planet over the next 30 years, which are far more significant than any discrepancy between estimated and actual 2020 values. 

This leaves us with 113 nations, representing a 2019 population of 7.2 billion (93.4% of the world population). Of the remainder, 72 nations (with a total population of 92 million) are not included because they are smaller nations (with land areas less than 25,000 square kilometers, as discussed in part two), and 30 nations (with a total population of 381 million) are not included because they do not have the energy/electricity information required for this analysis. 

To simplify the presentation of our results, we look at seven regions (rather than 113 individual countries). This has the benefit of smoothing out the variations and deviations which might be expressed in any individual country (resulting from many possible considerations and factors unique to a given country). 

Sub-Saharan Africa: dark red; North Africa & Southwest Asia: light red; Central & South Asia: light green; East & Southeast Asia (including Oceania): dark green; Ibero-America (Latin America and the Caribbean): orange; Europe: light blue; and Northern America: dark blue. Countries without energy data starting in 1990 are shown with a desaturated overlay.

To put our upcoming results in context, again recall what LaRouche said in 1983, “developing economies must achieve approximately the per capita energy-throughput of industrialized economies,” and, “without this policy, tens of millions or some multiple of that must die of increased mortality rates, for lack of energy supplies adequate to prevent this.” Based on what was shown in part three, we know the failure to implement LaRouche’s program over the past 30 years has already killed tens of millions of babies (and hundreds of millions more people). If we are to avoid the continuation of this horrific reality, an unprecedented global rise in energy-flux-density is required over the next 30 years. 

Based on the framework of the assumptions just defined, the future primary energy and electricity consumption per capita requirements through 2050 (by region) are illustrated in the following two graphs. In correspondence with our metric of national economic energy flux density (see part two), we are using the “weighted” per capita values (taking into account the differences in the per capita effectiveness of the energy and electricity consumption attributed to differences in population density).

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1. The World Bank: Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1990-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

Highlighting a few aspects of these weighted primary energy consumption per capita results, under this scenario per capita energy use in sub-Saharan Africa would double in only ten years (by 2031), triple by 2038, and increase five-fold by 2050, reaching a level Europe had in the 1990-2010 period. Ibero-America, North Africa, and Southwest Asia reach these European values by 2040, and Central and South Asia by 2045. 

For our weighted electricity consumption per capita projections, we see similar characteristics, with a few notable differences. Sub-Saharan Africa, starting from particularly low values, shows an eight-fold increase by 2050, but would still take another five or ten years to reach European 2010 levels. Additionally, we see East and Southeast Asia showing a lowering of the projected growth rate starting in 2022, because the East and Southeast Asia values are dominated by China, which has seen an incredible rise in energy flux density from 2009 through 2013 (which is extrapolated through 2021 in our analysis). So the projected East and Southeast Asia values might be a bit low if China continues its 2004 to 2013 growth rate through 2021 (although growth rates have tended to decline as countries emerge from their status among the most energy starved states, as discussed earlier).¹

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1. The World Bank: Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1990-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

Before moving on, it needs to be emphasized that this analysis has erred toward conservative estimates, so these results represent a minimum baseline of what is required. What is most desirable and actually possible is likely beyond what is estimated here.

 

The Power of the Future

Based on these weighted per capita results, we can estimate the total energy and electricity requirements globally and regionally, including assessments of the different fuel sources of the needed energy and electricity.

First, total primary energy consumption requirements by region are presented. This would double total global primary energy consumption in 15 years (2035), and triple it by 2050.

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1. The World Bank: Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1990-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

Next, look at total global electricity consumption requirements for the same regions. Electricity consumption would also double in 15 years, but it would triple by 2045 (faster than primary energy consumption, reflecting the growing role of electricity in the overall energy composition of an economy).

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1. The World Bank: Electric power consumption (kWh per capita): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1990-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

We can also look at these results in terms of the different fuel sources producing the energy and electricity requirements. To generate this assessment a few additional assumptions must be made. Recognizing the current limitations in nuclear power plant production capacity, we assume nuclear will play a smaller part (10%) of new electricity generation during the first five years, while well-established fossil fuel sources for electricity will be rapidly expanded (providing 85%—leaving 5% for other sources, mostly hydroelectric) to support the mobilization of an expanded production capacity for nuclear power (among many other high-technology capital goods). Based on the effects of this initial five- to ten-year crash mobilization, nuclear fission power then will be able to increasingly become the primary source of new, added electricity generation, at 75% by 2035 and 95% by 2045. 

A crash program for fusion power would bring fusion into the mix during this timeframe, but we don’t include a guess for how that would be expressed (despite its importance).

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1. The World Bank: Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita), Electricity production from renewable sources, excluding hydroelectric (kWh), Electricity production from renewable sources, excluding hydroelectric (% of total), Electricity production from coal sources (% of total), Electricity production from natural gas sources (% of total), Electricity production from oil sources (% of total), Electricity production from nuclear sources (% of total), Electricity production from hydroelectric sources (% of total), Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1990-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

Next, using this electricity generation assessment and an estimate for the future role electricity will play in the total primary energy composition of economies, we can estimate the total global primary energy consumption division by fuel sources.

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1. The World Bank: Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita), Electricity production from renewable sources, excluding hydroelectric (kWh), Electricity production from renewable sources, excluding hydroelectric (% of total), Electricity production from coal sources (% of total), Electricity production from natural gas sources (% of total), Electricity production from oil sources (% of total), Electricity production from nuclear sources (% of total), Electricity production from hydroelectric sources (% of total), Fossil fuel energy consumption (% of total): IEA (2014). Based on IEA data from IEA (1990-2016), www.iea.org/statistics. All rights reserved; as modified by the World Bank and Benjamin Deniston.

Returning to per capita assessments (not weighted according to population density), by 2050 this would bring the global economy as a whole to just over 10,000 kilowatt-hours electricity consumption per capita per year (nearly a three-fold increase), and primary energy consumption per capita per year to just under 60,000 kilowatt-hours (a two-and-a-half-fold increase)—bringing the global economy to current Northern America and European values, satisfying LaRouche’s assessment, “if a developing nation, for example, is to reach the levels of sustainable population-density obtained in industrialized nations, those developing economies must achieve approximately the per capita energy-throughput of industrialized economies.”

Lastly, with a few additional assumptions, we can estimate the number of nuclear power plants that will need to be constructed to achieve these requirements. We take 90% for the capacity factor (based on historical values in the U.S.) to derive the number of plants needed to produce a certain amount of electricity to be consumed. Additionally, we have to realize that many nations do not have electrical power grids and associated infrastructure capable of handling the electrical power provided by a traditional large nuclear power plant (usually in the range of one gigawatt), so small modular nuclear reactors will be needed to provide power to these underdeveloped grids.² 

We can take the current percentage of a country’s population with access to electricity as a rough proxy for the level of development of a country’s electrical infrastructure, and assume a 20-year time frame for the full development of an electrical grid for the most underdeveloped countries. Additionally, we assume that small modular reactors will play a role in developed economies as well (providing 20% of new nuclear power capacity).³ 

Based on these assumptions, the following tables and graphs illustrate the number of small modular and large nuclear reactors that will need to be constructed per decade through 2050 to satisfy our global energy-flux-density requirements in a generation.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (60 MW each)
  2020s 2030s 2040s Total
Sub-Saharan Africa 193 866 1,403 2,463
N Africa & SW Asia 149 977 1,266 2,393
Cen & South Asia 339 2,265 2,651 5,254
East & SE Asia 653 4,015 4,741 9,408
Ibero-America 198 1,260 1,409 2,867
Europe 225 1,650 1,456 3,331
Northern America 207 1,695 1,804 3,705
World 1,963 12,728 14,730 29,421
Benjamin Deniston, 2020. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1.

Large Nuclear Reactors Needed (1,000 MW each)
  2020s 2030s 2040s Total
Sub-Saharan Africa 10 154 337 501
N Africa & SW Asia 36 235 304 574
Cen & South Asia 78 544 636 1,258
East & SE Asia 153 964 1,138 2,254
Ibero-America 47 302 338 688
Europe 54 396 349 799
Northern America 50 407 433 889
World 428 3,001 3,535 6,964
Benjamin Deniston, 2020. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1.

 



 

The world needs at least 30,000 small modular nuclear reactors and 7,000 large nuclear power plants by 2050 to ensure developing nations are able “to reach the levels of sustainable population-density obtained in industrialized nations.” 

In addition to erring toward conservative assessments, recall that eight percent of the world’s population is not included in this assessment (because they live in countries without the energy consumption data required for our analysis, or they live in countries too small for accurate applications of this national economic energy-flux-density approach), so this should be taken as a minimum baseline for the global requirements. 

Still, our conservative assessment is far beyond what is generally forecast for global energy and electricity consumption by 2050. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts global electricity consumption will increase 80%, we have it increasing 240%, and they have global energy consumption increasing 50%, we have it increasing 200%. The International Energy Agency is even more pessimistic, forecasting global energy consumption to only grow 40% by 2050, and BloombergNEF has global electricity consumption growing only 57% by 2050. 

Hundreds of millions of lives, and a better quality of life for billions, depends upon achieving our scenario.

 

U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019; International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2014; BloombergNEF, New Energy Outlook 2018.

 

Creating the Future

Our energy-flux-density assessment provides a reference point for the needed global economic development over the next generation. The full spectrum of capital goods requirements will be immense, requiring the United States to abandon its post-industrial and radical environmental policies, and adopt an orientation to again becoming a manufacturing superpower, and an international policy of working with other leading powers (emphatically China, Russia, and India) in this mission. 

With these physical economic goals clearly defined, we can start an informed discussion about reforming the world financial system. Working backwards from our vision of the world in 2050, what credit investments will be needed, where, and when (and how do we handle the mountain of worthless financial instruments which have no connection to physical economic activity)? 

As LaRouche emphasized for nearly fifty years, the physical economic requirements of the global economy necessitate the return to a fixed system of currency exchange rates between sovereign nations, together with related reforms aimed at taking the control over monetary and financial power away from the modern incarnations of the British Empire (and their friends in Wall St. and other locations), and returning those powers to their rightful place at the hands of sovereign countries operating based on the consent of the governed and the requirements of the general welfare. 

A New Bretton Woods global credit system is required, built around long-term, low-interest lines of credit earmarked for the physical investments needed to achieve our 2050 perspective. And the United States has an indispensable role to play in creating this new global paradigm.

 



Benjamin Deniston 
LaRouchePAC Science 
Ben@LPAC-Organizers.com 

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Footnotes

1. There are many complicating factors, unique situations, and distinct requirements in individual countries. It is beyond the ability for this author to take all country-by-country considerations into account; instead, we opt for a consistent methodology applied to all countries (and recognize the results on a regional level will be more accurate than for individual countries). [return to top]

2. This consideration was brought to the author’s attention by Ramtanu Maitra (contributing author to EIR and longtime collaborator of Lyndon LaRouche) during a November 2018 meeting of a task force assembled to revive work on LaRouche’s science of physical economy. [return to top]

3. The specific assumptions used in the calculation are the following: for countries with electricity access at 25% (or less) of the population, 100% of new nuclear power will be provided from small modular reactors; at 50% access, 67% from small modular reactors; and at 75% (or more) access, 20% from small modular reactors. [return to top]

4. U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2019. [return to top]

5. International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2014. [return to top]

6. BloombergNEF, New Energy Outlook 2018. [return to top]

 

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  • Benjamin Deniston
    published this page in Science 2020-11-14 17:45:50 -0500

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