Now we have X and Y and they’re the best things to have. But Z is a thing of the future. And if we don’t get a piece of that action, we risk everything we have. I mean not now, but, ah, ten years from now Generalizing a quote from Tom Hagen in the Godfather.
Now the US has Fracking and SUV trucks and they’re the best things economically to have. But batteries and transportation and grid transformation are things of the future. And if we don’t get a piece of that action, we risk everything we have. I mean not now, but, ah, ten years from now. [by Brian Wang of Nextbigfuture]
China has gone all in on the electrification of cars, buses and trucks. They are using batteries in conjunction with pumped hydro and high voltage energy transmission to make their electric grid future capable. Trucks and other systems are going through comprehensive pollution mitigation if they cannot go to a completely clean system.
China is on pace to have 25% of all new cars in 2025 being electric cars. It is conceivable that nearly all new cars in China could be electric and self-driving cars by 2030. There are limiting factors. There is the supply chain for batteries and other components and the factories to put the batteries and cars together. It is not just batteries for all new electric cars. It is electric batteries for cars, buses, trucks, utility-scale storage, planes, drones and more. There is the nuance of where batteries have the most or best impact compared to alternatives. Certain things in certain use cases make more sense to be first. Batteries are projected to be scaling for a 17X increase by 2030.
This is still not nearly enough. You can consider how much is needed if you want high percentages of intermittent power like solar and wind and not have it wreck your grid. You need reliability because solar does not generate in the dark and solar and wind drop to ten percent in the winter months as compared to the summer.
Electric buses can be a significant part of the transportation and overall global solution. China has 330 million cars but 1.4 billion people. Clearly, the vast majority are using electric scooters, unpowered bikes, buses, ride-sharing, taxis, and subway. Cable-less elevators that move in and around and to multiple buildings in a denser urban core or in high-rise apartment zones can also be significant in many Asian cities. City layout matters in terms of an overall urbanization-transportation solution.
Batteries are clearly central to getting a solution at scale for transportation and energy. The decisions around 100X in responsive energy storage or 1000X in responsive energy storage is a more complex question. The need for 40X by 2030-2035 is clear. Other alternatives can be scaled for significant cases.
The Hugeness of the Fracking and Natural Gas Revolution
For those who think the US cannot do global impacting industrial development at scale, the US spent or lent over $4 trillion to enable the fracking and shale oil revolution. This is enabling the US to add a Saudi Arabia of crude oil and more natural gas over fifteen to twenty years. The use of natural gas which can be far less polluting and can have half the CO2 emissions of coal. The gotcha is that the gain only happens if you keep methane leakages at the field or pipelines below 1% or at most 2%.
The US oil production is at 12 million barrels per day of crude oil. Another 4 million barrels per day will probably be added in the next two or three years. The US moved up from 5 million barrels per day around 2000 to his level. Getting to 16 million barrels per day would be a net move of 11 million barrels per day and that does not include the massive natural gas move.
Abundant and cheap natural gas powers industry. Making plastics or building stuff you need the energy and the chemical feedstocks. Those things come from cheap natural gas.
I was not just being witty with the adapted quote at the start of this article. Fracking has been the best thing to have economically. The SUV truck part was more a statement of fact of US car production.
However, it is short-term to win with fracking, natural gas or coal. Getting positioned, moved and committed to electric vehicles and batteries is critical. As I and Tom said, maybe not now, but ten years from now. More true commitment is needed now. Fracking levels of planning and commitment, which I remind you is like $4 trillion.
Winning the now of Fracking is not winning the future of self-driving, electric cars and batteries. It is not winning the transformation to more efficient cities or national and global transportation and supply chains.
However, it is not a general call to just try to build more solar or rush to get out of fossil fuels. You need to look at how best to shift industry, cities, transportation as part of a system that works better economically and in terms of pollution and emissions.
Taking Computer and Data Driven Planning to Needed Sophistication
For roads and movement around a city or nation, it is not optimal to just use electric cars. Singapore has worked out a more comprehensive plan with walking zones, biking, electric cars, electric buses and subways.
This is the kind of city by city planning that is needed. The coordination needs to be taken several levels higher and needs detailed computer simulation. As Gene Kranz in Apollo 13 says, Let’s work the problem people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.
Computer simulation of the future cities, future grid, transportation, supply chains, factories and more. Public Simcity should be available to everyone online who wants to participate usefully in planning for Los Angeles, New York, Chicago etc… There should be even more powerful systems for actual city, state and national planners. China has planning where national high-speed rail or high voltage power lines trumps city planning and development.
This is not soviet style planning. This is data-driven and detailed. There can be market force modeling and inputs.
Contractors and large-scale project have to all be digital. Digital files have to be where proposed projects are made, reviewed and modified. The transmission and interaction with city licensing and other agencies and levels and the public needs to be detailed and electronic. Paper forms and submissions with manual review is useless and far to slow.
Automating and Speeding Negotiations of Tradeoffs While Prioritizing and Actioning on Goals
There needs to be the creation of programs that represent the interests of city planners, national planners and various community interests. Catching something in a haphazard makes it slow and random. It is in the developer, corporate, government and public interest for an efficient and fast and digital system to be in place.
It is not just some level of AI and automation. It is standardizing and interoperability of the files, formats and systems. It is processes for managing tradeoffs and negotiation.
There should be click of a button to gather the red flags automatically raised for community ABCs issues on classes of development. This can then go to into communication and fast and short online meetings with designated representatives. Actions of representatives are reviewed and communicated. There is a hierarchy of priorities, scoring method and system for allowing tradeoffs to be instantly made. Not all red flags get addressed but a satisfactory score means that approval can be made.
Scoring and systems can be negotiated with representatives. This could work something like group or Agency X your scoring for the project is -5 but the benefit is 8 for your one of your desired endpoints. Endpoint being for improving climate change and the -5 was related to urban issue Z. Are you willing to sign off or will mitigation 542 work for you. If not I apply accumulated development or environmental credit to buy off the override. Issues and groups get input and parts of what they want in an efficient and comprehensive process that recognizes priorities and tradeoffs while moving as fast as possible to desired goals.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.