Futuribles Journal n° 346

Recherche, sciences, techniques - Ressources naturelles, énergie, environnement

Will Science and Technique Head Off Energy Shortage?


Fluctuations in the price of the standard barrel of oil have been making headlines for several years now. In remaining at a high level in 2008 (with a peak of 150 US dollars in July), it seems to have left a marked impression on consumers, sensitizing them to the ever more imminent advent of a new energy era. Unless there is something approaching a technical revolution in this field, there is a danger that the increasing scarcity of fossil resources will appreciably raise energy costs and changed consumer habits will ensue.
Is the prospect of such a revolution plausible? Can there be scientific and technical breakthroughs in the coming years that produce improvements or new paths in energy production? Pierre Papon has examined this question. After briefly summing up the current energy situation (in a context, we should remember, of climate change), he offers a detailed overview of the various options for the exploration and use of fossil fuels, bio-fuels, hydrogen etc. He also demonstrates the potential and limits of renewables, together with the prospects for the nuclear industry. In all these fields there seems little hope of a revolution before 2030: adaptation to a context of growing scarcity of energy supplies remains, then, a pressing question. However, as Pierre Papon reminds us, we cannot rule out the emergence of a new paradigm in physics that could radically alter the situation (such as occurred, for example, with the theory of relativity); hence the indispensable research effort that must be put in by both scientists and funders.

Mots clefs :Innovations | Énergie

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