FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, November 04, 2005

Scenarios for Energy Futures

The recent rise in energy costs -- and the impact those higher costs will have on economies and lifestyles across the board -- has focused renewed attention on scenario planning.

It was Shell Oil who pioneered the use of scenario planning in the 1960s to forecast the disruptions in energy supplies that would occur in the next decade, helping it to plan its business models accordingly. Now, Shell has developed a new set of scenarios that envision a world grappling with energy shortages, higher costs and security concerns.

Similarly, the UK-based Energy Saving Trust has created two scenarios for 2020: One envisions a bleak world of energy and water rationing, a rejection of modern conveniences, a real estate crisis due to flooding from global warming, and the collapse of suburbia. The other suggests a more palatable world of sustainable, "green" design, local energy generation, and more intelligent use of resources.

The point of scenarios is that they are merely models, not firm predictions of reality. If we want to avoid the more pessimistic visions, the time to act is now. Says Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust:

The bleak picture of life in 2020 can be easily avoided just by taking small measures now to reduce excess levels of carbon emissions - one of the leading contributors to climate change... Rather than having to rely on harsher measures to urge consumers to take the issue seriously, we are encouraging people to act now and start saving at least 20% of their carbon dioxide emissions. This target is easily achievable by adopting a mix of simple measures such as improving insulation, turning appliances off standby, installing energy saving lightbulbs and turning the thermostat down by just one degree.

Source: WorldChanging