Proceedings of the
Second International Energy 2030 Conference,
November 4-5, 2008, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
The Grand Challenge of the Hydrogen Economy: A Challenge Too Far?
Prof. Peter P. Edwards
University of Oxford, UK
Irrespective of the monumental events of the past few weeks centered on the global financial climate, the future of humankind still depends upon us achieving sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development has been defined in various ways, but a concise definition is “…development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainable development necessitates continued growth in energy supply in our developing world. In Figure 1, taken from Kolasinski , we plot the human development index (HDI) against per capita energy consumption with energy expressed in units of kg equivalents of oil. The HDI is composed, amongst other things of contributions from life expectancy, adult literacy, and gross domestic product. There is a strong correlation between people’s standards of living and energy consumption.
Increasing energy demand in a developing world is inevitable as countries strive to enhance their population’s standard of living. This must mean depletion of fossil fuel reserves, and the burning of fossil fuels will also exacerbate the environmental threat posed by the CO2 they inevitably produce. Without significant new sources of sustainable energy (more correctly new sources of sustainable power), world development must stall, and conflict will increase.