What is energy? Why are we so interested in energy and why is it so important? FEEM researcher Samuel Carrara answers these questions by explaining the concept of energy, the relationship between energy and economic development, and the key issues of energy availability and security, sustainable development and climate change.This is the third of a series of video lessons prepared by FEEM researchers for NECST, an Erasmus+ project, aimed at the digital and shared production of scientific contents in the field of energy and the environment.
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”It is important to understand that we have no exact idea of what energy is” (R.P. Feynman, physicist).
Defining energy is tough, but in his lesson on “Energy: Scenarios and Challenges”, FEEM researcher Samuel Carrara uses the common concept of energy to explain the steps that lead from primary and secondary energy to final and useful energy, which is the energy available for end-use devices and services.
But why are we so interested in energy, and why is it so important? The evolution of mankind has been accompanied by, and made possible by, the availability of energy. The world regions characterized by economic poverty are the same as those characterized by energy poverty.
Energy demand today is about 20 times what it was in the industrial revolution, and according to the International Energy Agency, energy demand will increase over the next decades, as the rapidly increasing populations of developing countries will require more energy.
By 2040 the share of renewables as a primary energy source should increase, but the consumption of fossil fuels will still represent the lion’s share. This means that two other issues will have to be dealt with: energy availability and security, and sustainability and climate change.
Burning fossil fuels increases CO2 emissions, which in turn causes global warming. We have now reached a temperature increase of about 1°C with respect to the pre industrial revolution. Scientists say that a 2°C threshold is the desired level for the year 2100, beyond which irreversible damage to the world’s ecosystems might occur. If we do not implement policies to contain CO2 emissions, we might reach 4-5 or even 6°C of temperature increase with regard to the pre-industrial period, with catastrophic effects on the global ecosystems.
So who has to make the greatest effort to cut CO2emissions? This is another very important question which has been discussed among the countries of the world at the United Nations meeting in Paris in December 2015. Up to now the most developed countries are the highest CO2 emitters, but forecasts say that in the next decades, without the implementation of strong policies, developing countries will emit the largest amounts of CO2. The answer is: all the countries in the world will have to commit to cutting their emissions.
“Energy: Scenarios and Challenges”
NECST, A New Energy Culture, Sustainability and Territories
Life is a Balancing Act
The Planetary Individual