In this section, we explore energy sources. Energy is burned or harnessed to generate power for homes, industry, and vehicles. The next page gives an overview of how electric power is generated. What sources are used to generate that power?
As you can see from the US EIA provided charts below, most of the fuel used to generate power in the USA is from a fossil fuel source. This is forecast to change in the next few decades, but not very fast as you can see.
While the forecast is likely to change, it shows a continued reliance on fossil fuels in the USA at least. This is not the case in all countries. You can download the world outlook here.
Coal Power - Dirty but still widely used. A new process promises to recycle CO2 into power.
Much EV Power is from fossil fuels at the time - this is changing in the USA and eleswhere.
The U.S. military is the single biggest user of energy on the planet.
$8-$9 trillion is spent
globally on energy every year. World GDP is $70 trillion per year.
US EIA Energy Mix projections
As you can see from the chart, about 90% of the electric power in the US comes from non-renewable resources such as coal and natural gas. The Peoples Republic of China gets about 70% of its power from coal alone. Some 28% of the fossil fuel burned in the US is used for transportation alone.
So, most of the electric energy produced in the world today is from some kind of fossil fuel.
This will slowly change over the coming decades. For a list and description, see types of fossil fuels that are used to generate all this power.
Ethanol is sometimes put forward as a viable alternative to oil. Check here to see if this is possible, and what the pros and cons might be.
Back to the chart: about half of the other power in the chart as recently as 2007 came from coal. This is fast changing as new natural gas production techniques come on line.
The biggest challenge facing alternative and renewable energy sources these days is storage. This is true for utility scale power and electric vehicles. You can generate all the power you want from remote windmills, but where do you put it when not needed? This problem is covered in the renewable energy storage, and energy storage pages.
More specific to the electric vehicle are storage batteries. EVs currently use lead-acid, nickel metal hydride, and lithium-ion battery chemistries. These batteries provide practical but limited energy density when compared to fossil fuels.
Go to the Lithium ion Battery page to see how much energy you can currently expect from these storage devices.
The latest and perhaps best idea for energy storage for electric vehicles, and some grid applications, might turn out to be the large or ultra capacitor. This device is explained and a how it works discussion is given. One novel idea is to recycle CO2 coming from fossil fuel power plants to generate more power.
Natural Gas has actually increased to about 25% of US fuel mix where coal has dropped
colser to about 40% of power generating fuel