Green earth, blue globe, grey world

Decentralised power generation solutions provider Wärtsilä published a scenario report on future alternatives for global power and electricity production in December.

Wärtsilä spent more than 8000 hours analysing how electricity is likely to be produced and consumed in 2023. The project brought together the views of academics, non-governmental organisations, business leaders, government representatives and other experts, and resulted in three possible future scenarios being predicted. These have been called ‘Green Earth, Blue Globe and Grey World’.

“Today, two major global challenges top the economic, social, and environmental agenda of the world. On the one hand we have to produce enough electricity to improve the living standards of a growing population. On the other hand, we must curb climate change. These issues are highly topical,” Wärtsilä scenarios and business intelligence general manager, Pauliina Tennilä said.

“The discussions with the various experts in attempting to anticipate likely future trends turned out to be so fascinating that Wärtsilä decided to share the results. Indeed, the very nature of forming a scenario is that of a multi-dimensional discussion. Governments, companies, and individual citizens all have the power to make choices that affect our common future,” she said.

The report states the ‘Green Earth’ scenario is shaped by individual citizens who have decided to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. The world economy grows at a modest pace, and the use of renewable energy sources increases. People accept the scarcity of resources and live sustainably.

The ‘Blue Globe’ is a market-oriented, prosperous world, powered by large utilities. Policy is driven by two key factors: the need for economic growth and curbing emissions. Carbon capture and storage allows continued use of coal.

The ‘Grey World’ is ruled by governments. Scarcity of resources and energy security are major issues – climate change is not. Scarcity leads to considerable changes within society, and political tensions run high due to the uneven geographical distribution of energy resources.

“Creating scenarios is one powerful means for making sense of a complex and changing environment. Scenarios are fact-based, challenging, but plausible descriptions of what might lie ahead. They provide alternative views of the future, taking into consideration significant trends, events and actors, and try to model how they might interact,” Ms Tennilä said.