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Consider how the energy landscape has changed during the past 20 years.
In 1993, the price of oil was approximately $18 a barrel; today it’s around $100 a barrel. Also, the life of a cellphone battery was hardly a concern because there were only 34 million cellphone subscribers world-wide. Today, there are more than 6.8 billion cellphone subscribers. Back then, the battery for electric cars mattered even less. It would be another three years before the General Motors EV1 went into production and a year after that before the first Prius went on sale in Japan. Wind farms were a novelty, and solar energy barely registered in the statistics.
And how about these numbers since 1993 ... China’s consumption of oil has more than tripled, and its electricity consumption has quintupled.
Now, try to imagine what the energy landscape will look like 20 years from now.
What’s the outlook for advances in energy storage? What has to happen for solar power to truly become a major player in the energy game? Where will hydropower and biofuels fit in? Can deep-water oil exploration overcome its setbacks of recent years? What’s holding back nuclear power—and how can those restraints be overcome? What does the future look like for lighting, for the energy grid, for energy in developing nations?
You may see it as exhilarating because you’ll see how far the world has come in powering the stuff of daily life. You may equally view it as sobering, because you’ll also see how many of the most ambitious dreams have yet to be realized, and probably never will be. There is little doubt that the next 20 years will offer its own exhilarations, its own sobering realities. We are only limited by our imagination as to what those will be.
If history is the best indicator of the future however, one thing’s for sure. As more and more liberalization occurs nationwide and customer choice and free market elements pervade – pushing regulated monopoly model into extinction, deregulation will usher in a new era for the energy market with benefits to the consumer and the environment. When you call the shots, innovation and change, and more importantly your energy suppliers, listen!