Use the future to build the present
Energy Transition
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1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy
1Quantum Revolution& Advanced AI2HumanAugmentation3Eco-Regeneration& Geo-Engineering4Science& Diplomacy1.11.21.31.42.12.22.32.43.13.23.33.43.54.14.24.34.44.5HIGHEST ANTICIPATIONPOTENTIALAdvancedArtificial IntelligenceQuantumTechnologiesBrain-inspiredComputingBiologicalComputingCognitiveEnhancementHuman Applications of Genetic EngineeringRadical HealthExtensionConsciousnessAugmentation DecarbonisationWorldSimulationFuture FoodSystemsSpaceResourcesOceanStewardshipComplex Systems forSocial EnhancementScience-basedDiplomacyInnovationsin EducationSustainableEconomicsCollaborativeScience Diplomacy

Sub-Field:

3.1.2Energy Transition

Due to factors such as a growing global population, the demand for power is expected to rise by 50 per cent before 2050.11 Nonetheless, greenhouse emissions still need to fall sharply, necessitating a rapid transition away from fossil fuels as a source of electricity generation and transport fuel.
This can be made possible by leaving remaining fossil fuel reserves untapped and embarking on a rapid uptake of renewables such as wind and solar photovoltaics (PV), allowing these technologies to dominate power generation by 2050. In addition, fuels can be produced from CO2 that is “mined from the air”. In short, solar energy can be used to produce synthetic hydrocarbons from captured CO2 and “green hydrogen”. The latter is produced via solar-driven electrolysis that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen leading to an overall carbon-free fuel production process.12 In parallel, nuclear fusion reactors remain a viable possibility in future decades.

Future Horizons:

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5-yearhorizon

Embracing the sun and wind

Record efficiencies are achieved in commercial solar photovoltaic modules, and combined with reductions in device cost, make utility-scale solar PV cheaper than building new coal or gas-fired power plants in most of the world, boosting the adoption of solar technologies. In addition, a new class of giant offshore wind turbines, with rotors over 220m in diameter and individual output up to 15 MW, are installed across the globe.13

10-yearhorizon

Managing the energy transition

Intense planning allows existing fossil-fuel infrastructure, such as refineries and pipelines, to be phased out or repurposed.14 The energy sector becomes somewhat decentralised, with advancing technology allowing smaller-scale production facilities (e.g. local solar and wind farms) to become viable options for communities.15

25-yearhorizon

Renewable energy comes of age

Over 80 per cent of global energy comes from renewable sources. This reduces emissions fast enough to approach IPCC targets on climate change by 2050. The planet finally nears “net zero” CO2 emissions.

Energy Transition - Anticipation Scores

How the experts see this field in terms of the expected time to maturity, transformational effect across science and industries, current state of awareness among stakeholders and its possible impact on people, society and the planet. See methodology for more information.

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