Industrial Revolution and Energy Security in New Energy

Industrial Revolution and Energy:

 Among the hottest industries this year, concepts related to new energy undoubtedly rank in the top three. When we mention new energy, electric vehicles often come to mind first. However, new energy is a vast system, and electric vehicles are just one small yet crucial part of this extensive system(sources from medcom.com.pl).

 Therefore, this special topic aims to thoroughly explore and discuss new energy, as there is much to cover. Instead of completing it all in one article, which would likely take another month or two, we plan to present a series of short articles in a thematic format and eventually combine them into a comprehensive new energy special.This article serves as the first installment of the special topic and leans towards the historical aspects of new energy. Let’s start with an introduction.

Introduction: The development of human society, measured by total output, did not experience a sudden and significant growth for thousands of years before the industrial revolution. The substantial growth in human society, characterized by rapid advancements in technology and daily life, occurred after the industrial revolution.

The first industrial revolution, marked by the invention and use of the steam engine, replaced human labor. Tasks that previously required the combined efforts of many individuals could now be accomplished by a single steam engine.

The second industrial revolution, symbolized by the invention and use of electricity, replaced steam engines. While steam engines could perform miracles through sheer force, they were not suitable for intricate tasks. Electricity, on the other hand, excelled in handling fine activities.

Some argue that we are currently in the third industrial revolution – the Information Technology revolution, while others claim it is the fourth industrial revolution – the Data Intelligence revolution.

However, for nearly a century, electricity has remained the primary energy carrier in industrial activities. Apart from the common use of gasoline and diesel in transportation and construction machinery, energy for human production and life has been provided in various forms, primarily in the form of electricity.

The essence of the industrial revolution lies not in the invention of devices like steam engines but in the transformation of energy carriers caused by the appearance of such devices. Before the industrial revolution, the creation of all products, such as food, weapons, and housing, required the consumption of biological energy, mainly represented by human labor. Therefore, in feudal societies, the strength of a country was directly proportional to its population.

If a country had more people, it could cultivate more land and have more soldiers, making the country more powerful. Conversely, if a country’s population was too large and exceeded the limit of territorial capacity, it would lead to famine, unrest, and eventually dynastic changes.

After the industrial revolution, irrespective of the first, second, third, or even the fourth industrial revolution, the essence remains the substitution of chemical energy for biological energy. The steam-powered train, driven by the chemical energy generated from burning coal, could achieve feats that fifty horses might not match. The advent of electric-powered trains, utilizing electrical energy, significantly increased the carrying and driving capacity compared to steam-powered locomotives.

With the replacement of steam power by electricity, not only was there an increase in power density, but there was also an enhancement in the precision of energy usage. As an example, consider the ancient textile industry. Before the industrial revolution, the production of textiles depended on the number of people weaving, rather than the number of manual looms. During the first industrial revolution, power looms automated weaving to some extent, requiring simple operations from each worker to produce enough fabric. After the second industrial revolution, entire textile machines operated without human control, producing more refined fabrics than steam-powered machines.

By this time, a country’s comprehensive strength was directly proportional to its electricity usage. In other words, it was proportional to the utilization of energy.

.Energy Security and Sustainability: For a country to achieve stable and sustainable development, stable and sustainable energy is the most fundamental guarantee. Currently, there are five main categories of energy use: electricity, coal, oil, natural gas, and others (the division is not strictly rigid, as coal can also be used for electricity generation, which is currently the main form of power plants in China).

Coal is primarily used for power generation and winter heating in northern cities, while oil is mainly used for chemical manufacturing and driving machinery. Natural gas, aside from industrial uses, is mainly used for domestic cooking. Electricity, on the other hand, pervades various aspects of our lives.

Oil, coal, and natural gas are all non-renewable resources with limited reserves on Earth. Although there is considerable controversy about the remaining reserves of resources like oil, one day they will undoubtedly be exhausted. Additionally, China’s reserves of resources such as oil and natural gas are not sufficient, heavily relying on imports. In case of deteriorating international situations, a disruption in the supply of oil and other resources would have a significant impact on the functioning of society.

Electricity, however, is different. It can be generated from various sources, and to some extent, it is a renewable resource. Currently, there are five main sources of electricity: thermal power, nuclear power, wind power, hydropower, and solar power.

Thermal power primarily uses coal for electricity generation, making it the predominant form of power generation in China. Nuclear power, despite the construction of several nuclear power plants, has a relatively small share of electricity generation, with higher production costs than thermal power. Wind power is generated using wind and is common in areas with abundant wind resources such as grasslands, deserts, and coastal regions. Hydropower, prevalent in the southwest where water resources are abundant and rivers have a significant drop, includes examples like the Three Gorges Dam and Baihetan. Solar power is less affected by natural resource availability and, in theory, can be used for power generation in all regions of the country.

While thermal power requires the conversion of fossil energy, making it a non-renewable resource, wind power, hydropower, and solar power are renewable. Solar power, in particular, is considered an infinite and sustainable resource(quotes from medcom).

From the perspective of national security, promoting the transition of the energy structure to electricity and further transitioning the electricity structure to renewable resources becomes an optimal choice.

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