The Most Likely Energy Technologies of Tomorrow
Futurists tread where meteorologists and economists wouldn't even dare. While weather forecasters feel confident about looking five
days ahead and economists will gaze only one or two quarters ahead with trepidation, futurists throw caution to the wind and shoot
ahead 30 years and more to the world to come.
To find out what the world of tomorrow will look like, a George Washington University professor and two students compiled a survey
of which technologies are likely to emerge in the next 30 years. Their findings appeared in the November/December issue of The
"This is the best available knowledge that we can pull together. It is the best scientific consensus from a panel of 50 international
authorities," Professor William Halal said.
While the findings identified 85 likely technological advances establishing a permanent base on the moon by 2028, entertainment on
demand by 2003 and the majority of farmers will have adopted organic or alternative farming methods including a 50 percent reduction
in fertilizers and pesticides by 2012 the Quarterly has focused on only the advances in energy technologies.
- 2010 About 10 percent of energy comes from alternate energy sources such as geothermal, hydroelectricity and solar. (77%
According to the Energy Information Administration, nearly eight percent of the nation's energy needs were met by renewable
resources in 1997.
- 2011 Biological materials such as grasses, trees and other forms of organic matter are used to supply about 10 percent of energy
needs. (60% probability)
- 2016 Energy efficiency improves by 50 percent through innovations in transportation, industrial processing, environmental control and
related fields. (61% probability)
- 2017 Fuel cells that convert other forms of energy to electricity are commonly used about one-third of the time. (53% probability)
- 2020 Fission nuclear power is used for about half of all electricity generation. Fission energy is the result of splitting an atom's nucleus
and is the type of technology used in current nuclear plants. Hydrogen becomes routinely used in energy systems. (50% probability)
- 2026 Fusion nuclear energy is used commercially for electricity production. Fusion is based on the release of energy that occurs when
atomic nuclei are combined under extreme heat and pressure and is similar to the sun's method of producing energy. (50% probability)