Posted in Energy
In the January edition of Scientific American there is a wonderful article entitled ”A Solar Grand Plan.” I strongly encourage you to read it because the authors do a good job of “jumping the curve” and envisioning a radically different—and much cleaner and more sustainable—energy future for the world.
A couple of things from the article struck me. Did you know, for instance, that the world’s annual energy needs could theortically be met with the amount of sunlight that strikes the earth in just 40 minutes.
Undoubtedly, you are saying that the world would need an awful lot of solar panels and solar farms to capture that much energy. You would, of course, be right; but as the authors point out it is feasible to do this and it could be done using less land than is now being used to produce coal (from which the world presently meets 50% of its electrical needs).
One other thing struck about the authors’ 40-year plan—the authors don’t assume any technological advances in the field of solar energy occuring in the next 40 years. They do this to be conservative in their projections, but as this recent article suggests we may soon have solar cells that are 60% efficient!
If true, this means that the authors plan—which they estimate will cost $420 billion over the next 40 years—could be much less expensive than they project!
All of this tells me that if people—and especially our political leaders—can just jump the curve we could end our dependence on fossil fuels much sooner than most people dare believe. (This is a point I hammer home in my forthcoming book, Green Investing: How to Make Money Through Environmentally-Friendly Stocks).
As I say in my other new book, Jump the Curve, however, if you understand the exponential advance of emerging technologies you can also understand how we will soon be able to do things that seem impossible today.
Jack Uldrich is a writer, futurist, public speaker and host of jumpthecurve.net. He is the author of seven books, including Jump the Curve and The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business. He is also a frequent speaker on future technology and future trends, nanotechnology, innovation, change management and executive leadership to a variety of businesses, industries and non-profit organizations and trade associations.