In recent years, advances in computer processing power have allowed geologists to make sense of seismic data 15,000 feet or more below the ocean floor. Three-dimensional imaging and seismic mapping are now possible even below thick layers of salt, which used to blur views of untapped reservoirs. Superstrong alloys allow drill bits to go into hot, high-pressure fields.”

The above paragraph was taken from this recent in-depth New York Times article, The Energy Picture, Redrawn, about the future of energy.

It is now obvious that faster computers and new alloys have aided the discovery and production of vast new quantities of natural gas, oil sands and shale. This, in turn, is changing the oil industry and altering the geopolitical equation.

What is, perhaps, less obvious to the energy industry is now ever-faster computers and new nanomaterials will continue to aid in the production of new energy sources. For example, new nanomaterials may lead to hyper-efficient flexible solar cells as well as better catalysts and storage materials for fuel cells. Meanwhile, as I discussed the other day, more powerful gene sequencing equipment will likely facilitate the creation of new sustainable biofuels that could be real “game-changers” for the traditional fossil fuel industry.

It is always important to keep in mind that technology changes technology.

Related posts on the future of energy by Futurist Jack Uldrich:

The State of the Future: 13 Years From Now

Sustainability and the Future