Energy sector faces challenges as global energy consumption increases

Vinesh Kovelamudi

The head of a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable energy discussed the challenges and opportunities the energy sector faces as a result of impending climate change.

In order to help the U.S. combat the effects of climate change, the energy sector must reduce its carbon footprint and reduce the amount of energy needed to power the domestic economy, according to Douglas Arent, executive director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis.

“Carbon productivity must rise three times as fast as labor productivity did during the Industrial Revolution in order to reach the world’s demand for energy,” Arent said.

The Department of Energy asked Arent’s team to conduct research, and the team found the United States could meet the bulk of its 2050 projected electricity demand using renewable energy, meaning that renewable energy will represent anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of energy consumption, Arent said.

According to Arent, older people tend to invest more in clean, renewable sources of energy because of their desire to create a sustainable earth for younger generations.

“The older people get, the more they care about their children and grandchildren,” Arent said. “When you look at people’s purchasing behavior for solar systems in California, it actually skews to older people, and it is not because of the availability of money.”

Finance sophomore Trong Nguyen said he believes that carbon productivity could rise to the levels necessary to sustain the world’s energy demand in the future.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if future technological innovation allows society to easily reach the carbon productivity levels that would meet the world’s demand for energy,” Nguyen said.

With the decarbonizing initiative gaining more traction, energy investments are being increasingly allocated to clean and sustainable energy, Arent said.

“Bloomberg Energy Finance forecasts a decrease in fossil fuel investment globally for the next 20 years and a continued and relatively significant increase in investment in clean energy technologies,” Arent said.   

Public health freshman Jonathan Tran said that he believes increasing research should be devoted to finding more feasible sources of renewable energy.

“Adopting an increasing amount of renewable sources of energy will help us address both the long-term problem of energy sources, as well as limit nonrenewable energy’s harmful impact on the environment,” Tran said.