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Competence Centre on Foresight

We foster a strategic, future-oriented and anticipatory culture in the EU policymaking process.

Page | Last updated: 10 Dec 2020

Energy consumption

  • By 2040, more than 1 billion households and 11 billion smart appliances could be part of the interconnected electricity systems. The digitalization of the energy system can considerably increase energy efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions as well as reduce costs both for the consummers and producers.
  • Smart grids that regulate energy use through intelligent demand-based adjustment are expected to expand rapidly.
    | Related Megatrends: SecurityConsumerismGeopower
  • Estimates for increasing energy demand by 2040 vary between 35% (BP), 29% (Shell) to 0% (IEA “sustainable development scenario”) compared to 2016. While IEA estimates energy demad to grow by more than 25% by 2040, its scenarios show that if all economically viable avenues to improve efficiency are pursued, the overall demand for energy in 2040 could be at today’s level.
  • Global electricity demand is expected to increase 57% by 2050, mostly driven by increasing demands in China and India.
  • Much of the world increase in energy demand occurs among the developing non-OECD nations, where strong economic growth and expanding populations lead the increase in world energy use.
    | Related Megatrends: Geopower; ConsumerismInequality; SecurityDemography     
  • IoT, cryptocurrencies, cloud computing, supercomputers and all other electronics-related technologies are highly increasing energy consumption (e.g. the Bitcoin network electricity consumption is estimated to increase from the current at least 2.55 gigawatts to potentially 7.67 gigawatts -- comparable to that of countries such as Ireland (3.1 gigawatts) and Austria (8.2 gigawatts)). In Iceland, which has become one of the world's prime locations for energy-hungry cryptocurrency servers, the industry’s electricity demands exceed Icelanders’ private energy consumption. | Related Megatrends: ConsumerismClimate and environment; Technology
  • New technologies -- such as a new electrocatalyst that can efficiently convert CO2 to carbon monoxide (CO), a highly energetic molecule -- can address both, electricity production and reducing atmospheric CO2 concentration.

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