The future of energy supply: wireless energy for all!
energy concepts | Smart energy | What will our energy supply look like in the future? This is a difficult question for which there is no clear-cut answer. But we can describe alternative developments - that's exactly what we're doing with our Foresight series. In our first scenario, the world has become a place fit for everyone – thanks to a shared social vision of the future, political common sense, and purposefully pursued innovations. Collaboration has taken the place of competition.
Carla Benedetti loves this view. From up here, 500 meters above the UN building on the Hudson River, Manhattan is, time and again, an experience that sets her pulse racing. She has had the pleasure of enjoying this panorama many times before – as the Italian Minister of International Cooperation, she has already traveled to New York almost twenty times for meetings and negotiations.
Today, though, is a very special day – after the international community had agreed on a global language ten years ago, the last UN interpreter has today been symbolically and ceremonially seen off into retirement. Now, most people were able to converse fluently not only in their mother tongue but also in “Spachenglish”, a combination of Spanish, Chinese, and English. To mark this special occasion, the UN is making a documentary about the history of the political unification process. In this film, Carla explains how the revolution in the energy sector has come about.
All energy from one source
Beneath her, the Global Energies Inc. skyscraper rises up, completely covered with solar cells. This global company is responsible for the world’s energy supply, which has been based exclusively on electricity for around a decade.
“Following spectacular breakthroughs in solar cells and artificial photosynthesis, the international community agreed back in 2030 to focus entirely on the conversion of sunlight into energy,” she says to camera. “Huge solar farms all over the globe were intended to produce electricity that would cost next to nothing and reach consumers through a worldwide network of power lines – including at night, of course.”
No intermediate storage required
Carla still has a precise memory of being present in Lisbon on behalf of the Italian government at the opening of the first trans-Atlantic high-voltage cable. Many more have followed, including the “Eurasian Magistrale” and the “Voltamericana,” which extended from Canada to Argentina.
From the major distribution cables, the energy network branched off into ever thinner offshoots until electricity was present almost everywhere. Portable devices such as tiny communicators for language and data obtain their last-mile energy directly from an electromagnetic field that is produced by countless antennae and reaches into the very last corner of the world. Some antennae are attached to “energy balloons” that distribute high-energy radiation downward in a targeted manner. For this reason, batteries have been superfluous for many years, and power leads and sockets have become obsolete. Even the helicopter in which Carla and the camera crew sat is powered by electricity – and it, too, no longer requires a battery, for a concentrated beam of electromagnetic energy followed it on its journey and powered its electric engines.
“It is only thanks to the support of our central artificial intelligence that every person and machine is able to receive an uninterrupted supply of energy,” Carla explains. „It knows the supply and demand at every location in the world at every time and constantly directs the energy network so that the electricity that is essential for life is always available.“
The global community has joined forces
All this has been made possible only because the international community has come together in the fight against climate change and launched a new world order under the motto, “Cooperation, not competition.” The UN laid down a compulsory framework, which the individual regions then implemented according to their specific circumstances. This ambitious vision was rolled out under the heading “A stable and affordable energy supply as a basic right” – and, of course, it always had to be sustainable. After initially investigating a variety of technologies, the international community decided to focus entirely on solar power for supplying humankind with energy and to concentrate all developments on that source. “As a result of the mass-scale use of new solar technologies, the price of components has dropped dramatically, meaning that electricity can be produced at almost zero cost,” Carla says.
“Thanks to this and to our ultimate grid, high energy costs are no longer an issue, any more than global warming is.” Also, because the experience in this area was so good, the global economy likewise was reorganized by artificial intelligence. Detractors initially called this the “Planned Economy 4.0,” but they later had to accept that this centrally supported model was superior to the pure market.
Future of energy supply – a foresight project by thyssenkrupp
Our scenario of global energy cooperation without competition is only one possible future vision of our work. As part of our foresight process, our experts have developed sketches of very different futures. They describe worlds that could just as easily occur. That does not mean that they will just as easily occur. It is also not the case that our Foresight team of many different subject matter experts would prefer certain scenarios. The most important factor to them is that we understand what could be, in order to actively shape our future.
“What do we need to do differently today in order to be successful in the future?”
Leaving the comfort zone and thinking outside the box – this is what the Foresight Process invites everyone to do. For Andreas Meschede, Innovation Manager at thyssenkrupp, the scenarios are much more than just science fiction stories: “All the content portrayed is, in principle, is technologically possible and consistent. We paid attention to this in the structured preparation of the underlying scenarios. Stories like Carla Benedetti’s don’t give all the details of our scenarios but they invite us to immerse ourselves in these worlds of the future.”
thyssenkrupp uses the results for idea workshops, for example. These bring together representatives from all business units and a wide range of functions meet – from technology to marketing to human resources. “The focus is on one question: What does thyssenkrupp need to do differently today in order to be successful in the scenario world of the future,” explains Andreas Meschede.
The aim of the Foresight team is to use the scenarios across a broad front and in all areas of the company, including discussions with customers and suppliers. The key thing for the Foresight Manager? “That this using this method we continuously leave our comfort zones and think creatively for the future.”