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Global Futures Report 2013

64 I see no reason that virtually all passenger transport cannot become electric in the long term, leading to 100% renewable passenger transport. However, this cannot be accomplished with current battery technology, which is still quite expensive. But the transition to much smaller and cheaper electric micro-vehicles, coupled with new lightweight materials for conventional-size electric vehicles, and new forms of vehicle ownership and mobility services, lead me to believe that a high share of mobility will be served by electricity in the future, perhaps as soon as 2020–2025. Battery technology remains a big wild card, but it seems inevitable that battery techno- logy breakthroughs will occur with advances in new materials. Given that all passenger transport will become electric (except for air travel), biofuels will be most important for non-passenger trans- port, such as freight, and perhaps for some industrial uses. However, I don't believe that biofuels from food crops will be a part of our transport future, as land will be needed for human food consump- tion given growing populations and climatic changes that affect agricultural productivity, as well as problematic sustainability issues. Advanced biofuels made from cellulose that is grown on marginal lands and from agricultural waste could become very significant, but I remain unconvinced that cellulose-to-biofuels technology is a sure thing. Other types of advanced biofuels show promise. As for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, I think fuel cells for converting hydrogen into electricity are best left in homes and buildings where the substantial waste heat from this process can be utilized pro- ductively, not in vehicles where it cannot. And I remain unconvinced that fuel cells will ever be cheap enough. In the future, I see renewable energy investments proceeding along three main tracks: 1. “Mega projects.” Large-scale onshore and offshore wind farms, grid-tied CSP plants, autonomous CSP for desalination, multi- megawatt-scale ground-mounted solar PV, large biorefineries, and large-scale energy storage projects will be driven and financed by large companies and institutional investors, including national governments. 2. “Big rooftops.” Commercial and industrial companies will put renewables on their rooftops, primarily solar PV and solar heat- ing/cooling, integrated with geothermal heat pumps and inter- mediate-scale storage technologies. Public entities will also lease public rooftops and a wide range of other public infrastructure for its “rooftop-like” qualities. 3. “Communities and autonomous consumers.” Communities, small groups, and individual investors will install rooftop renewables, shared heat supplies, jointly owned wind turbines, and other community-based power using a wide range of local renewables and storage technologies. New forms of consumer finance, vendor finance, and utility on-bill finance will help greatly. The financial difficulties that were affecting economies around the world at the close of 2012 will likely affect all three tracks for many years. These conditions will likely bring investor risk-aversion and possibly much higher inflation-induced interest rates, which would certainly dampen investments for many years. But where OECD countries may fall back for a time due to financial difficulties, I remain convinced that China, India, and many other developing countries will take up the slack soon enough. What must happen for the visions in this report, and my personal vision expressed here, to become reality in the coming decades? First, we must believe these things are possible. That belief is getting easier every year as market and investment trends provide confirmation. Then, we must look to the countless individual decisions made everyday by consumers, homeowners, utilities, construction firms, corporate executives, financiers, and many others, and how those decisions can better align with a renewable energy future. Much can also be achieved through decisions by local groups, whether at the community level, the sub-neighborhood level, or the homeowner association level. Better education and training is fundamental to all of the above decisions. Research and develop- ment (both public and private) for new technologies, especially driven by new materials, will certainly make the future come easier and faster. But we don’t need to wait for those breakthroughs—we have enough at our disposal already. Finally, governments have an important role to play in the many ways outlined in this report, although with perhaps less focus on costs and more on risks, and certainly with more attention to the necessary sector-specific policies for electric power, buildings, industry, and transport. I intend to personally see the transformations discussed in this report happen by 2040–2050, if not sooner. Onward to a renewable energy future! Eric Martinot RENEWABLES GLOBAL FUTURES REPORT EPILOGUE

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