by Sensix Teamabout 1 month ago
Humans consume around 63,300,000 MWh of electricity per day. If we switched over to electricity for all our energy needs, including transport, heating, industry and everything else, we would need 304,460,000 MWh of electricity per day. To cover that, let’s imagine the world ran on solar power or wind power. If we were using solar energy to its fullest potential, we would be able to generate a whopping 401,850,000 MWh of electricity per day. That would cover all our energy needs and then some! What if we used, instead, wind power to its full potential? Well, that would produce 480,000,000 MWh of electricity per day, which is even more than solar’s maximum potential. Of course, creating so many solar panels and wind turbines would take a lot of resources - so let’s look instead at how the world is currently powered.
Renewable energy includes solar and wind power, as well as biomass, geothermal and hydroelectric. The largest biomass power plant in the world is the Drax Power Station in the UK. It uses mainly wood as fuel, and is a converted coal plant. Coal is still used but expected to eventually be phased out completely.
The largest solar power plant in the world is the Shakti Sthala plant in India. It produces electricity by using only solar panels (it doesn’t use mirrors at all) and has dethroned the former largest solar operation, the Tengger Desert Solar Park in China, in 2018. According to the IEA (International Energy Association), solar power is experiencing the fastest growth at 31% per year, nearly triple the rate of wind power.
The largest onshore wind power station in Europe is the Fântânele-Cogeleac Wind Farm, located in Constanța, Romania. Around 30% of the world’s power comes from renewable sources, and going back to the aforementioned potential outputs for solar and wind, we are only using 0.81% of solar’s potential generation capacity, and 0.57% of wind’s potential output.
Nuclear power plants represent the most efficient form of non-renewable energy generation. However, due to large-scale disasters that happened in the past at Chernobyl and Fukushima, there is quite a strong stigma against using nuclear energy. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is the largest nuclear power plant in the world by MW. It was shut down however after the Fukushima disaster of 2011, and remains dormant as of today. Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Canada is, therefore, currently the largest operational nuclear reactor in the world. It generates 30% of Ontario’s power.
Coal was still being used for around 38% of the world’s energy needs, with natural gas coming up in second place at 23% (mostly in Asia and Russia).
A new factor for energy consumption has seen a huge increase in recent years: our internet activity is using up a huge amount of electricity, from keeping servers online, to mining for cryptocurrencies. The largest consumers are apparently google as far as servers go and bitcoin as the largest cryptocoin. Looking to the future, the fast growth of internet usage and more and more features (everything from banking to messaging etc.) going online is something to keep in mind when thinking about energy usage.
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