The Lighted Path to Solar Power and Electrical Energy Dominance

By the year 2052, we may see the fall of fossil fuel-based energy and its megacorporations in accordance with the rise of renewable energy, producing a significant portion of our electrical energy with solar power.

| May 7, 2014

  • By 2052, the control of the energy economy by a very few large megacorporations, a characteristic of the fossil-fuel age, will be over. Solar power generation will be as close to the consumers as possible, sustainable, and stable for decades, freely exchanged at real-time market prices through the interconnection of micro-grids and national grids.
    Photo by Fotolia/umbertoleporini
  • In "2052," Jorgen Randers draws on global forecasting tools, his own experience in sustainability and the predictions of more than 30 leading scientists to guide us through the future he feels is most likely to emerge. Not to scare us, but to prepare us and sound a call for changing course.
    Cover courtesy Chelsea Green Publishing

What will our future on earth look like? In 2052, (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012) Jorgen Randers tries to predict what the world will actually be like in forty years, based on global forecasting tools, his own experience in sustainability and predictions of leading scientific and sustainable minds. The following excerpt, from William W. Behrens, explains the predicted shift from the current dependency on fossil-based energy to the dominance of solar power and electrical energy in 2052.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years.

Bright Solar Future

Between now and 2052, the world of energy will evolve more positively than many other aspects of human culture. And in that world, electrical energy will stand out, not just for replacing fuel energy in all sectors of the United States and the world, but also for doing it much more quickly than expected. The reason for this is simple: electrical energy will be produced with much less capital intensity than fuel energy.

Already, all fossil-based energy production requires heavy capital infrastructure. As the quality and quantity of fuel resources decline, the capital required to extract a gallon of fuel will increase dramatically (witness the intensity of capital required to develop the tar sands reserves). Yet, eventually, suppliers worldwide will be able to produce electricity with relatively small and modular hardware. As this trend develops, both transportation and space conditioning will turn toward increasingly efficient electricity-based hardware. By 2040, in the United States, electricity-supported transportation systems will be common in densely populated areas, and many homes and businesses will have been converted to air- and water-sourced heat pumps that operate on electricity from renewable sources, and will no longer rely on fuel-based boilers. The primary renewable electrical energy source will be solar.



The Rise of PV and Decentralized Energy

From 2012 to 2022, centralized utilities and corporations will still control the means of electricity production and will develop large-scale renewable energy plants to meet an increasing fraction of the electricity load. These plants will utilize all forms of renewable energy—whether produced by large-scale wind farms, photovoltaic (PV) farms, very large solar-thermal turbines, or even ocean energy. But as the second decade dawns, three influences will combine to create a rapid shift away from centralized electricity production and toward distributed production by micro-grids.

One driver will be political. In the United States, democratic political institutions will finally recognize the stranglehold that fossil-energy companies exert on public decision making. After public and governmental backlash, lawmakers will enact legislation that levels the playing field, removing the financial and regulatory advantages currently extended to these huge players. The government will require fossil fuels to carry their full cost of production, including their waste stream, and will redirect the resulting revenues into balancing the government budgets (a necessary response to the economic collapses of the United States in the 2010s).

ChrisGP
5/9/2014 8:55:06 AM

I have read that the most efficient way to generate power from the sun is by way of a solar powered stirling cycle engine. I have also read that such engines are very expensive to buy. Is it possible to make one?







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