The global energy outlook presented in a new report from the World Energy Council is really three different views of the future. World Energy Scenarios 2016: The Grand Transition describes the current global energy sector as being on the cusp of dramatic transformation. Three different exploratory scenarios offer a unique way to think about and discuss what electricity generation could look like over the next 40+ years.
What sets this report apart from a more simple, linear analysis is the WEC’s introduction of three plausible explorative scenarios showing different pathways to a global energy sector future. Each scenario examines how decisions made today can impact how we balance future energy and sustainability needs. The WEC describes this balancing act as the “trilemma” of sustainable energy.
One of the “likely” futures presented highlights the phenomenal rise in solar energy, which it says, will continue at an unprecedented rate. According to the report, solar and wind energy contributed 4% of total power generation in 2014. By 2060, the WEC says that number will climb to between 20% to 39% depending on which scenario path is taken.
Another future fact cited says the demand for electricity will double by that same year. Solar energy will help feed the next generation’s increased appetite to power its technology-enabled urban lifestyle.
The impact of disruptive technology also underscores much of the report. In the energy outlook presented, solar is expected to be a significant disrupter to traditional power producers. As the benefits of solar power for business continue to rise, utilities will experience diminished ability to capture a significant portion of new power demands.
These predictions and more are backed by the culmination of three years of work by a network of more than 70 WEC members from over 25 countries. Predictions are quantified using a global multi-regional energy system model.
The full report is the size of a novella and is ready to download for those looking for in-depth information. An executive summary is also available and offers a comprehensive overview of the report’s findings. Both help to recalibrate how we view and discuss the future of global energy.