Monday, 27 August 2012



    "There is one quality more important than “know-how” – and we cannot accuse the United States of any undue amount of it. This is “know-what” by which we determine not only how to accomplish our purposes, but what our purposes are to be.” 

          Norbert Wiener

    "to render the total chemical and energy resources of the world, which are exclusively preoccupied in serving only 44% of humanity, adequate to the service of 100% of humanity, at higher standards of living and total enjoyment than any man has yet experienced.” 

  • Buckminster Fuller's definition of World Design   

     "Treat the Earth well:  it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.  We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

                                                     American Indian Proverb

….. I decided to look at the world’s current electricity generation, country by country (205 of them) together with their current respective populations, in order to arrive at comparable available electricity figures on a per capita basis in the form of kWh/person-year [kWh/py].  Taking the current UK per capita level of 5546kWh/py upgraded to a desirable 7500 kWh/py as not too unreasonable a level approaching Bucky Fuller’s design definition, country by country the per capita energy levels are updated where necessary, in addition to adjusting notional expectations for the year 2100 from the current world population of  ~7 billion to the UN median estimate for 2100 of  ~9 billion.

Based on those assumptions, here are some of the numbers resulting:
  •          of the 19 TW of current energy production, 16% of humanity consume 55% at an average of 9,320 kWh/py, the other 84% share the remainder at an average of 1,453 kWh/py.
  •          these remaining 84% would currently require an additional 7,853 kWh/py on average (416%).
      The top three countries in the world are Iceland (52,632 kWh/py), Norway (27,588 kWh/py) and Kuwait (18,903 kWh/py) ....
      .... and the bottom three are Niger (12 kWh/py), Burundi (12 kWh/py) and Chad (9 kWh/py).

         Calculating the total annual requirement on the assumptions quoted, the 2100 world output would have to be  ~1,554 TW.

And the results for World and Regions:

For a Civic Energy overview see

While the region of Asia + Oceania contains China as well as India, the continent of Africa alone accounts for two-thirds of the necessary increase in the World's 2100 estimated electricity production. Which may explain Otto Edenhofer's statements referred to in my earlier post at  See also: Chinese loans raise spectre of colonialism, The Times, 20 July 2012,  p.40. or Dambisa F Moyo: Winner Take All - China's Race for Resources and what it Means for the World, Basic Books, 2012

An illuminating view of the sheer enormity of Africa is shown by Diamandis & Kotler in their book Abundance:

Hydroelectric electricity generation obviously uses water, but what is less often realized is that all other power stations are only gigantic steam engines also using water.  When looking at all their respective water requirements it becomes obvious that there is just no way that conventional power stations, however mixed, could ever satisfy 2100 world demand, as here calculated, on account of their water requirements alone.

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Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook

Electric energy:
US Energy Information Administration, Total Electricity Net Generation, by Region and Country, for 2009

 Fuel water footprints:
UNESCO Institute for Water Education, Research Report Series No. 29, March 2008

Operational water needs:
NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory):  A Review of Operational Water Consumption and Withdrawal Factors for Electricity Generating Technologies, Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-50900, March 2011

Argonne National Laboratory, US Department of Energy, Environmental Science Division ANL.EVS/R-10/5: Water Use in the Development and Operation of Geothermal Power Plants, 2011

Capacity factors:
Wikipedia, ECOFYS and other sources

Available energy:
Maximum Power Contained in Renewable Sources, in
Peter H Diamandis & Stefen Kotler, ABUNDANCE, Free Press, New York London Toronto Sydney New Delhi, 2012


  1. Two illustrated primers are at stainability.php

  2. A published article on this subject is found at

  3. A related article on water resources at: