Four Ways to Save the World

With humanity facing down an ever-worsening global energy crisis, researchers have identified a four-pronged approach to prevent calamity.

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Currently, there are 1.3 billion people in the world without access to energy. If we can figure out a way to provide energy to the mass of humanity who currently does not have access, we will see a doubling or tripling of the energy requirement on the global scale by the year 2050. Considering 85% of the world’s global energy consumption is fossil fuels, if we want to be able to provide the energy required and not increase the carbon emission profile, we will need to replicate the entire global non-carbon energy infrastructure to come anywhere close to the goals.

According to Professor Jatin Nathwani, Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) and lead author of the Equinox Blueprint: Energy 2030, the only way to meet the challenge is to support basic science. It is only through technological innovation that we will be able to transition the global energy system to a lower carbon energy economy.

Through Prof. Nathawani’s work with WISE, 4 major sets of technologies have been identified that either alone or in combination will enable us to make this transition: solar, wind, advanced nuclear and enhanced geothermal. However these technologies are depending upon major innovations to allow us to meet future global energy needs. For example, the major challenge with depending on solar and wind power alone is that they are variable and intermittent. Therefore, in order to maintain a base load, or power that is available at all times, large scale energy storage technologies need to be developed. Currently, Professor Nathwani’s focus is on developing competitive energy policies to enable the innovations required to be able to meet future energy needs without increasing carbon emissions.

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Jatin Nathwani is a Professor at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His current focus is on energy policy developments to enable the social and technological innovations required for the transition of the global energy system to a lower carbon energy economy for long term sustainability. He is also the founding Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) where he leads the Institute’s R&D efforts to foster the development of large-scale multi-disciplinary research projects involving strong collaboration with business, industry, government agencies and civil society groups. Prof. Nathwani holds the prestigious Ontario Research Chair in Public Policy for Sustainable Energy, established by the Ontario Council of Universities as part of a unique initiative by the Government to help make Ontario a leading innovation based economy. Prof. Nathwani serves on several Boards at the provincial and national levels, has appeared frequently in the media, and has over 100 publications related to energy and risk management, including seven books. He holds a PhD in Engineering from the University of Toronto and is a Registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario.


Allison Guy is a freelance science writer who is passionate about increasing scientific literacy and enhancing scientific discourse among the public. She holds a MSc in neuroscience from the University of Toronto and has been working as a drug development consultant for the pharmaceutical industry both domestically and abroad for the last 5 years. She is also a lecturer at Ryerson University in the Department of Chemistry and Biology and at the G. Raymond Chang School where she teaches pharmaceutical development and regulation.