Introduction to General Overview

Abstract It is an undisputed reality that the energy production, particularly the electricity generation and their sustained growth, constitutes indispensable elements to guarantee the progress of any country. In other words, the energy constitutes the motive force of the civilization and it determines, in a high degree, the level of eco- nomic and social development of the different countries. The well-being of people, industry, and economy depends on safe, secure, sustainable, and affordable energy. It is expected that 90 % of the increase in the world energy demand during the com- ing decades will be satisfied with fossil fuels. This means that around 15,300 million tons of oil equivalents will be consumed at world level in 2030 in order to satisfy the foreseeable demand. However, the fastest growing sources of world energy are renewable and in a minor manner nuclear power. The renewable energy source share of total energy use is expected to rise from 11 % in 2010 to 15 % in 2040, an increase of 4 %, and the nuclear share is expected to grow in the same period from 5 to 7 %, an increase of 2 %. Undoubtedly, renewable energy sources are the fastest growing sources of electricity generation during the next two decades, with annual increases averaging 2.8 % per year from 2010 to 2040.

Introduction

It is an undisputed reality that the energy production, particularly the electric- ity generation and their sustained growth, constitutes indispensable elements to guarantee the progress of any country. In other words, the energy constitutes the motive force of the civilization and it determines, in a high degree, the level of economic and social development of the different countries. The well-being of people, industry, and economy depends on safe, secure, sustainable, and affordable energy. Energy is a daily need in a modern world and is mostly taken for granted in Europe.

The energy system and its organization evolved over centuries if not millennia using different energy sources and distribution systems to cover basic needs such as food preparation, protection against winter temperatures, and production of tools, e.g., via metal melting, among other uses. Over the last century, this has concerned delivering heat and warm water as well as industrial and transportation fuels and electricity to consumers. There has been a significant increase in energy production and consumption over the last 100 years, providing more comfort and individual freedom, but at the same time polluting the environment and (at least partially) depleting existing reserves (Impact Assessment SEC (2011) 1565, 2011).

According to several experts’ opinions in the field of energy, the use of energy at world level will continue to increase gradually until 2030. Then, the main ques- tion that needs to be answered is the following: How much the energy demand will increase and how this demand is going to be met? According to studies made by the French Association of Oil Professionals, “it is expected that for 2030, the world energy demand will be double and it is probably that could be triple for 2050”. Until 2030, the primary energy demand at world level is expected to increase annually at 1.7 %, which is somehow smaller than the world growth of 2.1 % registered during the last three decades.

It is also expected that 90 % of the increase in the world energy demand during the coming decades will be satisfied with fossil fuels, particularly gas for the generation of electricity. This means that around 15,300 million tons of oil equivalents will be consumed at world level in 2030 in order to satisfy the fore- seeable demand. However, the fastest growing sources of world energy are renew- able energy sources and nuclear power. The renewable share of total energy use is expected to rise from 11 % in 2010 to 15 % in 2040, an increase of 4 %, and the nuclear share is expected to grow in the same period from 5 to 7 %, an increase of 2 %. Undoubtedly, renewable energy sources are the fastest growing sources of electricity generation during the next two decades, with expected annual increases averaging 2.8 % per year from 2010 to 2040.

The different energy sources that the humanity has in their hands now to satisfy its current and future energy needs are the following:

1. Solid fuels:

• Fuel wood1;

• Forest products2;

• Coal: Anthracite; bituminous coal; sub-bituminous coal; and lignite (brown coal);

• Peat: Peat is considered as a substance somehow between forest product and coal;

• Carbon wastes.

2. Liquid fuels. These fuels result from refining crude oil:

• The lighter products first to distillate are liquefied petroleum gases (LPG);

• The following distillate products will give gasoline, petrol, and gas oil;

• The residue, which is not distillate, is fuel oil.

There are also on the market some mixtures of gas oil and thick fuel oil, which result in:

• Diesel oil;

• Burner oil;

• Thin fuel oil. Other liquid fuels:

• Alcohol (especially ethanol). Gaseous fuels:

• Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbons and chiefly methane (CH4);

• Butane and propane;

• Manufactured gas: derived from the industrial petrochemical process. Other fuel gases: hydrogen, acetylene, among others.

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