Reinventing Energy Futures: Four Visions


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Reinventing Energy Futures: Four Visions presents the shifting landscape of our relationship to energy. For most inhabitants of the developed world, energy (or lack thereof) has not been a problem during their lifetimes. Energy is a technology so successful it has become invisible; the most significant, and most silent, enabler of a modern way of life. But all that is changing.

Over the next 10-15 years, our relationship to energy will enter a new phase, framed by the stark reality of carbon emission-driven climate change, and a rising energy demand around the globe. Whether we like it, or are ready for it, an emerging "energopolitics" will reshape everything from what we consume, how we live, why we work, and ultimately, the condition of our planet.

The Reinventing Energy Futures: Four Visions Map (PDF) is an invitation to explore four corners of possibility for the future of energy. It is a tool to make connections across a broad array of action domains where control over our resources will play out. In the difficult to forecast field of energy futures, where data and projection models often clash and expertise runs deep and narrow, this map is a way to frame new actions.

Take a tour of the energy landscape-in-the-making. Engage with the forecasts in each of the six action domains—infrastructure, governance, quality of life, resources, environment, and economy. Grapple with the big questions at the heart of these domains. Imagine your day in one of the future scenarios. Then take your next step—it may be the first step toward building new strategies for shaping a future in which we all thrive.

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Reinventing Energy Futures: Four Visions

  1. 1. f ou r vi s i o n s o f e n erg y f u t u res GROWTH CONSTRAINT a ri s i ng t i de s har i ng t he l oad E CO NOMYINFR A S TRUCTUREQUA L I TY OF L IFE QUA L I T Y OF L IFEE NV I R ONMENT T R A N S F O R MAT I O N a new dawn COLLAPSE shu t d ow n GOV ERNANCEGOVER NANCE ECONOMI CSQUA L I TY OF L IFE QUA L I T Y OF L IFEE NV I R ONMENT
  2. 2. INFRASTRUCTURE RESOURCES six action domainscritical components of a successful energy future
  4. 4. GRoWtH collapse a ri s i ng t i de shut downAbundant and reliable energy are necessary to maintain economic The technological breakthrough never came, conservation failed,and social stability. By 2025, both public and private sector strategies and reactive government policy was too little too late. Alternativehave created massive resource investment and incentive structures to energies could not scale fast enough through market forces. Theencourage more rapid growth in the energy sector. Energy producers world struggled to salvage the once robust and reliable energyusing fossil fuels, nuclear, wind, solar, and other renewables have all infrastructure. Energy prices have become exorbitant and gettingseen significant return on their investments. unprecedented energy fuel to vital machines is a constant battle. out of this almost totalinnovation in both production and distribution infrastructures, as well energy collapse, however, a new energy future is emerging. The u.S.,as services and applications associated with the smart grid, have having let its energy infrastructure crumble, is now a leapfrog nation,produced record profits and job growth. Carbon emissions and climate and distributed, renewable energy systems are being developed.change have not slowed, but climate disruptions have led to innovative FO R E CA S TS Local microgrids hold great promise to take hold in the emergingadaptations, including some small-scale geoengineering projects ›› Regional, not national, regenerative economy. GoveRnance resilienceyielding locally positive results. ›› Struggles over energy How will we re-allocate mandates control over energy in a world ›› Personhood rights for Earth of new power politics? ›› New resources = new power brokers ›› Locally owned energy FO R E CA S TS ›› Rise of disaster economics FORECASTS econoMy ›› Renewables reach the Source: tipping point ›› Energy conscious food enviRonMent Source: Wikimedia Commons ›› Growing scrutiny of water How will we innovate ›› Extended producer for energy production responsibility: cradle-to- How will we reinvent strong jobs, services, and cradle Temperatures on the rise our responses to accelerating ›› products based on the ›› Motivating high-tech ›› Energy locavores workers with a new mission environmental volatility? energy economy? ›› Geo-engineering ›› Peak energy use at the the climate Energy Soft Landings New Legal Categories global level Bloomington, Indiana has Nations like Bolivia are part joined the Transition Towns of a burgeoning movement movement, creating an “energy to declare “personhood” for descent action plan” for a planet Earth, granting it the postpeak world. rights of any human citizen. Steps in identifying and Source: calculating GHG emmisions Identify sources Select calculation approach Source: Source: Source: Collect data and choose emission factors Apply calculation tools Roll-up data to corporate level Growth of full-cost Agile Energy Products Metrics Fenix International’s Distribution Wind Rose vanishing Worlds Robust accounting systems ReadySet is a safe, New professions and tools, This documentary tells the such as the Greenhouse rechargeable battery system such as graphs to plot the story of three families in Gas Protocol are enabling for charging small devices distribution of wind resources, Alaska, India, and China, companies to develop when the grid is down or are helping reframe land use whose lives are already comprehensive and reliable nonexistent. at the local level. being affected by changing inventories of their GHG climates. emissions. FO R E CA S TS ›› Religious organizations take on power FORECASTS infRastRUctURe Personal data systems ›› Smart buildings QUal ity of l ife ›› become more vulnerable ›› Energy islanding How will we ›› Persuasive technology Plugged-in mobility How will we build a drives behavior change ›› interact with new fixed, ›› Apps for energy new relationship to energy to ›› Purchasing access, not mobile, and virtual ownership ›› Energy data in the cloud support better lifestyles? infrastructures? ›› New energy retail Source: FORECASTS Source: PlugShare Source: MeterRead Garbage in, energy out Source: ›› ›› Wind, water, and solar for ResoURces the win Recycling heat PlugShare Mitsubishi Energy Beam ›› How will we vatican Highlights GHG MeterRead This mobile app provides Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and ›› Costly nukes information on charging IHI Corporation have partnered redefine fuels and waste? The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is one of a growing Mobile apps make behavior change easier. You can set stations for electric vehicles, in a 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) ›› Solar Moore’s Law number of religious authorities up multiple meters to track and indicates homes and Japanese project to beam bringing issues of climate your home, solar panels, businesses that volunteer to solar energy to earth within the change and environmental or car, or to make personal share outlets for recharging. next three decades. futures to worshippers around projections of future usage the world. patterns. Source: BloomEnergy Source: Enerkem constRaint t R a n s f o R M at i o n shari ng t he load BloomEnergy’s fuel Rethinking Waste a new dawn In 2025, oil spills, nuclear meltdowns, obscene profits for fuel Cell Servers Enerkem will operate a plant There was never any energy shortage on Earth, only a shortage BloomEnergy’s fuel cell slated to open in 2012 for producers, and accelerating climate disruptions have finally catalyzed “servers,” deployed in 2010 for industrial scale production of in the amount of energy humans were able to harness and put to the political will for more direct and heavy-handed government control customers including Google, biofuels from municipal waste. work. Tapping into this abundance of energy is leading the world eBay, and Walmart, are an over every aspect of the energy industry. The u.S. government did not early signal of reemerging toward a total transformation of human society and marks a cosmic commercial interest in fuel cell wait for renewables to catch up and replace fossil fuels and nuclear technologies. civilizational shift. Led by technological advances in solar power, power. Instead, it implemented a series of mandatory efficiency and including widespread success of the artificial leaf, the improvement conservation efforts to strictly regulate demand, and sustainably in solar efficiency and costs, and the deployment of space-based generate supplies. utilities were highly regulated, as were private solar arrays, humans have begun to use that giant nuclear reactor, the homes. While energy is not the ubiquitous resource it once was, if Sun, more effectively and efficiently than ever before. If the pace of managed properly, there is enough for everyone to meet their needs, technological advancement continues, some think we will reach the without destroying the environment or leading to energy wars. 174 petawatt mark by 2033, just eight years from now.
  5. 5. H OW TO USE T H IS MA P explore the present, envision the future ENGAGE the Action Domains INFRASTRUCTURE EXPLORE the Alternative Future Scenarios COLLAPSE s hut d ow n SCAN the SignalsAcknowledgementsFOR MORE INFORMATION: