Location: Digital Age and Solar Power Production
Cellphones, Computers, Televisions, the Internet and the Digital Age
The power consumption linked to the concept of a Digital Age or Digital Revolution is enormous. The socialogical ramifications of a shift from traditional industry and agrarian societies has had profound impacts on the globe. Not least of which is the advent of power plants in otherwise pristine environments. How did we get here? What should we do about it? Why do we care? Let's look into that...
The Industrial Revolution, while dirty, brought goods to the masses, increased standards of living, and required much power. The result of this research and development in conjuction with the Industrialization Processes resulted in the Digital Age we live in today. Since the findings of coal, through the steam engines in the 1800s, and really gaining steam with oil, gas, and electrical power through the 19th and 20th centuries, we have learned much. AND QUICKLY!!! The rate of learning has coincided with the ability to power a world dreamed of in science labs. Through industrialization, powered by coal, natural gas, and oil, humankind has built a world ever more vast. The power to do the work provided by fossil fuels. Three centuries of this power utilization, production, and forward movement of society have transpired.
At the conclusion of this period, we have a new, economy, method for communication, data manipulation, accounting of and for information. Commonly seen as an outflow from the Space Age, then advances in computing. Computers now run just about every appliance on the plane. You can find a computer everywhere, running everything more efficiently than humans are capable. Power consumption per capita processer has been dramatically reduced, capitalizing on the computer microminiaturization advances and Moore's law for 6 decades. However, the total number of processors has skyrocketed, and the amount of power per capita dedicated to electronics is going with it.
The digital age reached it's critical mass in the 1990s, with the adoption of the internet and widestream deployment of communication satellites by the public sector. Since 1997, the usage of the internet has driven computing, and the speed which these communications transpire makes it a business advantage. The Information Age allowed rapid global communications and networking to shape modern society, businsess, and entertainment alike. In the two decades after 1990, the amount of data generated, transmitted, and stored has geometrically skyrocketed, but given society much in return.
The progression to the Digital Age was not dependent upon the transformation from the industrialization age. Rather many societies jumped from an agragrian system directly to the Digital Systems. Neighboring states and geographical regions happily supplied the resources from industrialized and manufacturing processes to these new Digital Societies. However, the affect on the planet was not mitigated by the geographical distance, and the pollution became a worldwide problem. Below you can see the power generation prior to, and after the inception of the Digital Age. These numbers have continued to escalate, and now have reached an 20 terawatts annually. This number should be astonishing, doubling power consumption worldwide in 30 years.
Fuel type ||Average power in Tera Watts|
|1980 || 2004 || 2006|
|Oil || 4.38 || 5.58 || 5.74|
|Gas || 1.80 || ||3.45 3.61|
|Coal || 2.34 || 3.87 || 4.27|
|Hydroelectric || 0.60 || 0.93 ||1.00|
|Nuclear power || 0.25 || 0.91 || 0.93|
solar energy, wood || 0.02 ||0.13 || 0.16|
|Total ||9.48 ||15.0 ||15.8
With so much power being used all of a sudden, cleaner methods were scientifically explored. The available solar energy resources are 3.8 YJ/yr or nearly 120,000 TW annually. If we were to capture just two hundredths of 1 percent, 0.02% annually, we could completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels. YES, that is right, .02% of available solar resources are sufficient to entirely replace both fossil fuels and nuclear power as an energy source. In 2007, grid-connected photovoltaic electricity was the fastest growing energy source in the United States. Wind Energy has come online en-masse since, in conjuction with continued solar installation. Solar panel installations of all photovoltaics will continue to grow, with annual increases of 83% in 2009. Solar cell production increased by 50% in 2007, to 3,800 megawatts, and has been more than doubling every 2 years since.
Based on Peak Oil, our resources are limited, and provably so. We now know that our rate of fuel usage in 2005 will not constant, and will continue to escalate. The rate at which demand increases and reserves dwindle will therefore be increasingly dramatically. Based on convergence into the Digital Age, the rate of consumption will not constant, but ever increasing. People around the globe have an increased demand for energy.
So the question is this.
Are you ready to lock in your power costs and buy your solar panels today?