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.