21st Century Energy Transition: how do we make it work?


Last updated on June 21, 2024 6:09 pm

Discover the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century energy transition. Learn about diverse energy sources, storage technologies, and the need for sustainable solutions. Join us to explore the global efforts in mitigating climate change and achieving energy goals.

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Affordable, abundant and reliable energy is fundamental to human well-being and prosperity. For the past 150 years, more and more people have gained access to energy, primarily in the form of fossil fuels – coal, petroleum and natural gas. But now, even while half of humanity cannot access adequate energy supplies, we are beginning a profound transition to more diverse energy sources. Climate change, environmental sustainability, and energy poverty are all important – and sometimes conflicting – drivers as we strive to supply more energy to more people with fewer negative impacts on Earth’s environments.

In this course from the University of Alberta and Canadian Society for Evolving Energy, you will join us to learn about the many energy sources available, and where technology is providing exciting new solutions to energy and environmental challenges. Find out what roles energy storage must play to support the transition, and discuss how we can optimize transition processes. Examine competing viewpoints (“realities”) to enable energy transition, focusing on the practical challenges in bringing about change on a global basis. Finally, you will bring all these issues together to examine how the energy transition process is progressing and what we must do to create pathways to achieve our goals.

What you will learn

Introduction to the 21st Century Energy Transition

Welcome to 21st Century Energy Transitions- how do we make it work? In this first module, we will introduce one of the great global challenges of our time: how do we deliver dependable global energy in a way that mitigates the effects of human-induced climate change, encourages sustainability, and meets the sometimes competing economic needs of many different countries? To begin answering this question, we will also dive into the past to discover how energy has transitioned throughout human history, and see how this might help us with energy transitions today.

Energy Sources and Production – Benefits and Challenges

To understand the challenges and opportunities of global energy transition, we need to be aware of the different energy sources that are used today, and those that could be more dominant in the future. From fossil fuels and established renewables like solar and wind, to more recent advances in energy sources like biomass and geothermal, in this module we’ll introduce each major player in the world of energy, discuss their benefits, challenges, and see some new technology that might provide solutions to future energy issues.

Energy Storage

Now that we’ve covered the major energy sources, it’s time to switch focus to another important part of the energy transition- energy storage. In this module we’ll look at energy storage requirements and priorities, particularly in relation to electricity. We’ll also examine hydrogen as a potential source of low GHG energy, discuss its positive and negative attributes, and explore some new technologies making hydrogen more available and competitive.

FAQs for the Energy Transition

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the second half of the course! Now that we’re comfortable with energy sources and storage technologies, it’s time to ask some of the tough questions for the energy transition over the next century. How do we balance rising energy demands and increasing populations with reducing GHG emissions? How do we improve energy efficiency both as populations and individuals? What are some ways that we can keep GHG emissions as low as possible in future scenarios where fossils fuels will still be required? How do we balance rapid change with continuous energy delivery? How do we reconcile the competing energy policies of different countries? As you’ll see in this module, there are very few clear answers, but the 21st century energy transition starts with asking the right questions.

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    21st Century Energy Transition: how do we make it work?
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