The march of human progress over the past 250 years has at every step been made possible by harnessing energy inputs with ever-higher density. From wood to coal to fossil fuels, higher-density energy makes whole new industries possible, as well as higher productivity and more wealth for society. And when we look at tantalising future technologies, from hyperloop trains and AI, to hydrogen production by electrolysis and water desalination, cheaper and higher-density energy is the chief constraint. The world will need much more energy if our economy is to continue growing at anything approaching historical rates. New alternative and green energy technologies are for the most part not the answer. Yes, they may be less harmful to the environment, but their system-wide effects from lower energy density mean they are really a big step backwards. The world urgently needs a disruption in energy technology.
Enter 2021, in which an advanced AI algorithm solves the super non-linear complexities of plasma physics, clearing the way for commercial fusion energy. The SPARC fusion reactor design from MIT, which has been validated in 2020 as a viable path to less costly fusion energy, is massively improved by this new AI model. Engineers adjust the SPARC design, with new models pointing to an energy gain factor of 20, creating the biggest paradigm shift in energy technology since nuclear power. Even more importantly, a massive investment from public and private sectors would allow the implementation of the new fusion design within a few short years.
The mastery of fusion energy opens up the prospect of a world no longer held back by water or food scarcity, thanks to desalination and vertical farming. It’s a world with cheap transportation, fully unleashed robotics and automation tech, making the current young generation the last required to “work” by necessity. And hey, how about a bit of CO2 sequestration on the side, dialling back the climate change clock in the process? Best of all, fusion energy allows nearly every country to become food- and energy-independent, and sees the most rapid and largest upgrade in living standards ever witnessed.
Trade: The political and investment winds favouring “traditional” green energy stop blowing, and the wind energy ETF FAN falls by 50% in 2021.
See next 2021 prediction:
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