This article is part of the ‘Think Further’ series, sponsored by Fred Alger Management, Inc. For more ‘Think Further’ content and videos, visit thinkfurtheralger.com.
In 2064, the global use of fossil fuels will fall to less than half its current level, as resource exhaustion leads to higher extraction costs and higher prices than consumers can pay.
If humanity is smart, and takes firm action to grapple with resource exhaustion and climate change, renewable energy use will grow 10-fold until it provides roughly half the total primary energy supply. Electrified rail, plus a small share of electric cars, will dominate surface transportation. Coal and nuclear power will be nearly phased out. More than 80 percent of global electricity will be provided by renewables. Natural gas plants will provide most of the remaining 20 percent of power generation. The current grid power architecture, with its reliance on big, centralized “baseload” generators, will be replaced by a highly interconnected web of smaller, variable generators and off-grid systems. Enabling this new architecture will be a mix of new technologies including demand management, advanced grid management and forecasting, and a wide variety of storage technologies.
These storage technologies will include new battery chemistries, such as the one that MIT professor Donald Sadoway is exploring, as well as new types of flow batteries, pumped hydropower, compressed air storage devices like the one LightSail Energy is developing, flywheel-based devices, thermal storage systems, and perhaps a few others still yet to be conceived.
– Chris Nelder, Energy Analyst