Future Grid Blog
Joule never walk alone
Although I'm not too keen on absolute statements, I'll put one out there anyway, serving as the core message of this blog post: our universe is in a constant state of change. What was true yesterday doesn’t necessarily hold true today. Our energy system is no exception.
Per definition, our energy system has never been static. Energy historian Vaclav Smil has been documenting energy transitions for a long time. The basic notion is that the first time humans started using energy as part of their survival toolkit, it was through the mastery of fire, which allowed humans to use the solar energy stored in plants (through photosynthesis) for heating and cooking. Eventually, humans mastered the art of agriculture, which allowed them to not just extract, but also capture the sun’s energy in plants. In this agricultural system, muscle power became an important component of our energy system. The next transition came with the Industrial Revolution and the discovery of the energy-generating capacities of burning fossil fuels, which are the remnants of eons of solar power captured in plants. This allowed humans to tap into a very potent and concentrated source of stored solar power. The use of fossil fuels kickstarted our modern economy. However, this was paired with the detrimental consequence of excessive carbon emissions. That leads us to the present day. Right now, we are in the midst of another energy transition: one where we will receive and use the sun’s energy on demand, without disrupting the current energy flows, while at the same time maintaining an environmental balance.
Renewables are slowly becoming the cheapest source of energy. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Yes, renewables used to be extremely expensive. But remember, what is true yesterday does not necessarily hold true today. Every time I say “The cost of solar has dropped between 70 and 80% over the last 8 years!” I remind myself how fast this transition is progressing. I believe that, once renewables reach parity around the world, the transformation will be so fast we won’t even realize it.
However, the energy system will be different. That’s unavoidable. Renewables have different characteristics when compared to fossil fuels. That’s unavoidable. Our relationship with energy is changing. Though once regarded as an abstract concept, people are now starting to become aware of the origin of the energy they consume. The age of the prosumer is near...
To aid this transition, humans have a vast set of tools at their disposal that can mitigate the risks inherent to renewables (intermittency for example). What we are aiming to do here at The Future Grid is to create a platform with the sole focus of integrating more renewables into the energy system, and thereby accelerating the transition. We do this by exploring all the current industry innovations that can impact this transition: energy storage, the electrification of the mobility sector, blockchain, energy flexibility, AI, machine learning, microgrids, etc. In later blog posts, we’ll go into more detail on the ways how each of these innovations is aiding the transition.
We still are, and will always be, in a state of change. The Future Grid was born with the intention of accelerating change through the promotion of knowledge creation and sharing, and the facilitation of connection-formation and network-building. I hope you will join us in this adventure. Thanks for reading!
For more information, please feel free to contact me directly:
+31 10 302 7903