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Energy sustainability: consumption, efficiency, and environmental impact
Vance, L., T. Eason, AND H. Cabezas. Energy sustainability: consumption, efficiency, and environmental impact. CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY, 17(7):1781-1792, (2015).
Based on projected energy consumption, environmental impact, human population, gross domestic product (GDP), and energy efficiency, for this study, we explore the increase in energy-use efficiency and the decrease in energy use intensity required to achieve sustainable environmental impact levels where global consumption did not exceed planetary biocapacity. The manuscript results will be submitted to the journal, Energy.
One of the critical challenges in achieving sustainability is finding a way to meet the energy consumption needs of a growing population in the face of increasing economic prosperity and finite resources. According to ecological footprint computations, the global resource consumption began exceeding planetary supply in 1977 and by 2030, global energy demand, population, and gross domestic product are projected to greatly increase over 1977 levels. With the aim of finding sustainable energy solutions, we present a simple yet rigorous procedure for assessing and counterbalancing the relationship between energy demand, environmental impact, population, GDP, and energy efficiency. Our analyses indicated that infeasible increases in energy efficiency (over 100 %) would be required by 2030 to return to 1977 environmental impact levels and annual reductions (2 and 3 %) in energy demand resulted in physical, yet impractical requirements; hence, a combination of policy and technology approaches is needed to tackle this critical challenge. This work emphasizes the difficulty in moving toward energy sustainability and helps to frame possible solutions useful for policy and management.