Energy is a fundamental need for human activity. Food and water supply, transport, and mobility services require energy input. Fossil fuels are predominant in our current energy system, providing low-cost and reliable energy services. Renewable resources are used as well, especially hydropower and wind power, but also biomass resources in developing countries.
The U.S. Department of Energy stated, “Almost all the increase in oil use in the industrialized world is expected to occur in the transportation sector, where there are few economically competitive alternatives to oil currently available. In the developing world, however, oil demand is projected to grow in all end use sectors as emerging economies shift from noncommercial fuels (such as fuel wood for home heating and cooking) to diesel generators.” 1
In this chapter, we discuss the role of fossil and renewable resources, their ecological implications, and options of using new energy sources for our mobility needs.
According to various academic studies and analyses, the global energy demand is projected to increase substantially over the coming decades. The U.S. Department of Energy published in its International Energy Outlook 2001 that worldwide energy consumption will increase to more than 600 quadrillion Btu in 2020 (Figure 4.1). This projection has already been revised downward from the 1998 forecast due to the economic crises in Asia that started in 1997 and the deteriorating Russian economy, which was affected by the devaluation of the ruble and the collapse of the Russian finance sector. 2