A forward-looking chronicle of one possible energy future was recently published in the Summer 2007 edition of UC Davis Magazine. Entitled, “Future Power”, this piece is written from the perspective of a UC Davis alumnus in the late 2060’s. Interestingly, the piece looks back at energy research on-going at Davis circa 2007 and charts how these innovations contributed to eventual weaning of civilization off fossil fuel.
The most interesting aspect of this article is its emphasis on how today’s research ideas may enormously impact how we generate and consume energy in the future. For details of this energy timeline, I recommend reading the article. However, I think some of the piece’s more interesting speculations about our energy future are worth noting here.
2015: Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs are entirely replaced by lamps made of high-efficiency light emitting diodes (LEDs)
2022: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles become the standard automobiles in America. In addition to enabling zero-emission 50-mile commutes, the batteries in these vehicles also contribute to peak load shaving when plugged into the grid.
2025: All waste bio-mass (i.e., food scraps and other organic waste) is collected curbside with other recyclables and converted into compressed natural gas via a bacteria-driven “anaerobic digester”. The resulting fuel powers the recycling pick-up trucks.
2060: Humans master nuclear fusion, completely eliminating reliance on fossil fuels for energy production.