Future sustainable energy supply a major global challenge
Global energy use is expected to increase by 50 percent before 2035. Two strong driving forces are a growing population and increased urbanisation. Meanwhile, more than a billion people worldwide live without access to electricity. How do we reduce carbon emissions while increasing access to electricity? And what are the options for a sustainable energy supply?
Major global challenges
Big changes have been taking place in the global energy market over the last few years. The production of shale gas and shale oil has increased sharply, particularly in the US, which has led to a fall in oil prices worldwide. For the first time, the forecast is that the world may be facing decreases in energy costs instead of increases.
Even Sweden is facing major challenges. In 15 to 20 years, the oldest of today’s Swedish nuclear power plants will be closed, as will the first-generation wind turbines. Sweden’s future energy supply is often referred to as one of the most important political issues of the coming years.
Today, new digital innovations are challenging old ways of thinking and changing the way we use electricity. One concept that has received considerable attention and that is often identified as one of the solutions to the challenges of the future is smart grids. Smart grids enable consumers to participate in and take control of their own electricity use in a way that was not possible before, for example by providing information on how much electricity is being used at certain times and at what cost. This provides consumers with better knowledge of their electricity use so they can make smarter choices when using it.
Many predict that future power customers will increasingly choose to disconnect from the traditional grid and instead generate their own electricity. For example, electric car manufacturer Tesla made headlines with its new battery for home use that can store power from solar panels so that the energy can be used when the sun is not shining. Tesla hopes that the new battery will help more people become self-sufficient with renewable electricity.
“Thanks to the technological leaps forward we are now seeing, electricity has started becoming a consumer issue. The need for the traditional grid is shrinking, and when people are able to disconnect from the mains, it will radically change the rules of the game in the electricity market,” says Jan Nordling, head project manager for Electricity Crossroads.