We can discuss and disagree on what the energy of the future will be, even if the data, statistics and the road took all seem to lead toward a single direction. However, the experts and the highest authorities in the field agree on one point: coal and oil will pass the torch to other sources of energy.
If coal pulled the industry of the 19th century and oil was the energy that dominated the 20th, in the future, there will be other resources, more sustainable and more friendly for the environment, that will give a great boost to the development of the world economy.
These new resources all lead back to electricity. Electricity, thanks to the continuous progress of all the technologies will become increasingly efficient, with better performances and above all will be a clean source of energy.
As a matter of fact, the data confirm that in the last 25 years or so, the share of electricity consumed with respect to the total amount of energy produced, has risen steadily. Forecasts indicate that the trend will continue in this direction.
The path of old and new resources
In reality, there is not much to be done before reaching the final decline of coal, which is considered to be unreliable from an economic point of view and also extremely harmful to the environment. Many countries have already announced the dates by which this resource will be abandoned, such as Italy, which set it in 2025. Italy has forecast that by 2050, due to all these divestments, the coal demand will drop below 5%. Oil will instead continue to be demanded and consumed in quantities of millions and millions of barrels per day, especially for land and air transports. Moreover, the United States will continue to be the first producers of oil in the world. However, it is undeniable that the use of electricity will rise, growing every year by a few percentage points.
Therefore, there is still a long way to go before electricity replaces oil or at least becomes the first source of energy. This change is inevitable.
The only exception is represented by natural gas, which will continue to play a leading role thanks to the incentives and subsidies it constantly receives.
Renewable source in the future
If the world has decided to stop environmental pollution, it is necessary to choose sustainable solutions that do not involve the emission of carbon dioxide. Currently, according to a report from last July, renewable sources in Europe are around 40% of the entire energy mix. The goal is to double this percentage by 2050.
These ambitious figures can be explained by the boost that technology has given to energy production and storage systems, with the spread of electric vehicles, with a drastic fall in prices that will inevitably lead to towards electricity.
In India and China, the sun is the cheapest renewable source. In Europe, this role will be played by the wind, but the fact that renewable energies are actually developing is proved by huge investments that many countries devote to these systems. Their aim is to achieve an energy system entirely powered by renewable sources. According to renowned researchers, this idea is definitely ambitious, but absolutely within the reach of almost 140 countries. The example to follow is the example given by Costa Rica, which in 2017 produced energy for more than 300 days using only renewable sources, and more specifically sources deriving from geothermal, wind and especially hydroelectric installations.
The advantages of renewable energy are there for all to see: if fossil fuels are toxic, renewable energy sources are clean and have zero greenhouse gas emissions.
However, these resources have many positive aspects, they are not only less polluting (even though this remains a very important aspect). Renewable energies are neither affected by the oil crisis nor by the depletion of raw materials. They are more efficient if you consider that electric cars are 40% more efficient than combustion cars and heat pumps, in terms of heating. They are 50% more efficient than traditional systems: electricity grids can be easily digitized, the development of this sector would lead to create millions of jobs and also will reduce the number of deaths due to the effects of pollution.
To ensure that the spread of these resources on a large-scale does not stop, it is necessary to draw up rules and regulations that would favor this process. It is necessary to think of a long-range vision that includes charging points for electric vehicles, a close and deep collaboration between companies and research laboratories and, above all, public awareness and a unidirectional political direction so that everyone can make their own contribution to the beginning of the so-called century of electricity.