How energy will be part of everyday life in 2050
Innovation Director at INFO and visiting professor TU Delft
Read more by Iskander Smit
Even though this is 30 years away, we need to start moving in new directions now and have the new system fundamentals in place in order to achieve the change that is projected by the energy transition policy (100% sustainable) within 10 years.
For inspiration, I looked at some of the future thinkers and design fiction studios I like to follow like, Mitigation of Shock, Space10, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Automato.farm and Mozilla Sustanability project. Their work takes the projected climate change as a reference point to think about and predict our future living environments. Especially Mitigation of Shock by Superflux is acknowledged as a slightly dark, but at the same time optimistic view on that future, in which we find new solutions to deal with the changing ecosystem. As always, humans will adapt and I like the idea of a kind of self-organizing, bottom-up system that creates new forms of growing food to deal with different types of scarcity. I think this model serves as an inspiration for the way we deal with energy in our homes. Space10 is sketching a similar self-organization in which, with help of IKEA, you build your own energy system: “a model of a self-sufficient, community-driven microgrid where people trade renewable, affordable energy from one another according to their individual needs”.
Space 10 SolarVille (Photo —Irina Boersma)
A day in the life of Nina in 2050
These developments might lead to a day in the life of someone in 2050 looking something like this:
Nina is 42 and lives in a tiny house in the drylands of Amsterdam with her partner and their 5-year old son, Jon.
It is Wednesday evening, Nina watches the news bulletin before going to bed. The weather report has an energy projection, indicating the sun’s power of the day. Siri advises Nina to reserve 30% of the solar storage for evening use, the sun will be strong enough to add the extra 10% that is needed for their planned dinner party and movie night.
The next morning Nina takes her personal pod to the near mobihub, together with Jon. It has been charged sufficiently and they still have 50% capacity in the energy storage. She chooses to offer 10% to the exchange platform, because she would like to have spare energy in case the evening becomes more intense or extra people will drop by.
At the hub, she delivers Jon to be collected by the school bus. Nina herself is collected by the autonomous bus service she is subscribed to. She has planned a meeting at another hub before arriving at her final destination of today: the office where she will meet the team she is currently working with.
Illustrations by Laura Martin
After a meeting-filled morning, she takes a walk towards yet another hub, where she uses the gym facilities. She receives a notification that there is an offer of someone for her 10% energy at the market. She uses some of those coins to take a lesson at the gym.
In the evening, she starts dinner with the help of Jamie (a kitchen AI assistant). He inspires her to cook some extra courses, but it turns out that the energy she reserved might not be sufficient. Jamie offers to buy some extra energy from the marketplace, even if it comes from the city supplier who charges a higher rate. This dinner party is more important.
After dinner – which was a huge success thanks to Jamie’s additions – Nina relaxes on the couch, watching her personalized end-of-the-day program. Before going to sleep, she reviews her calendar for tomorrow and the weekend and sets her preferences, which (amongst other things) will influence the modeling of energy use.
The drivers of future energy
Looking at this sketch of a possible future it is clear that there is a shift to bottom-up energy production, combined with a focus on saving energy supported by smart advisors. New models and new collaborations beyond basic consumerism, all driven by the notion that climate change is real. These are the drivers of the future of energy that will be discussed in a separate article.
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