The Future of Energy

¦“Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” – Joshua J. Marine

 In my role as a Business Development professional of an engineering firm, I am in the fortunate position of seeking new opportunities, not only for energy related industrial projects of today, but also for the next 5-10 years from now. So this begs the question, what is our energy industry going to look like 10 years from now? There is a lot of discussion in the public sphere that we are in a time of fundamental change in our energy system. The threat of global warming set off a world-wide alarm bell that has led to the decarbonization of the energy system, and government regulation has followed suit. Fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal are losing the popularity contest. Meanwhile, renewable technologies such as wind, solar and battery storage are taking center stage with the help of high profile entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. All of these new sources of energy create an interesting opportunity for an engineering firm. It may feel as though a diversification to alternative energy is around the corner, however, the energy transition period is likely much longer than we think.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance projected that annual Electric Vehicle sales will account for 35% of new vehicles sales by 2040, with the tipping point being 2022 when the cost of EV’s will be the same as internal combustion vehicles. Once EV’s become cheaper and more reliable, they will no doubt give gas and diesel cars a run for their money. In the meantime, car manufacturers, city infrastructure and consumer confidence needs to advance significantly before EV’s become the norm. Yet, we still need to answer the C02 issue. As much as EV’s appear to solve the carbon emissions problem, the reality is that the manufacturing of these batteries are not entirely environmentally friendly. They release a substantial amount of carbon dioxide before the batteries even leave the factory. So are we really working towards a lower carbon footprint with electric vehicles as everyone thinks we are?

Crypto currency and Bitcoin are quickly rising in popularity, and rising with it is energy consumption. According to Digiconomist, the mathematical algorithm’s used to verify a Bitcoin transaction (at time of writing) requires as much energy use as an average household for an entire week. If Blockchain, the distributed and decentralized electronic ledger, is going to replace our financial institutions in the future- how are we going to power it? And how quickly can government and industry respond before we all start buying cars or a Tim’s double double with Bitcoin?

The Industrial revolution lasted almost 100 years before scarcity of resources such as wood and whale oil forced nations to switch to coal, steam and kerosene. Change in our energy system is inevitable, but the transition is a lengthy process that requires government, industry and consumers to collectively buy in. In the meantime, Scovan continues to invest time and resources to incremental advancements for cleaner, more efficient technology for oil and gas production, and alternative energy. We don’t claim to know what the future holds, but we are developing the skill sets internally and taking part in pilot projects that stretch us into new territory while leveraging what we already know.  Overcoming these daily challenges is what makes our work meaningful and makes us proud of what we do.

Written by: Valerie Stewart