The BP Technology Outlook sets out how technological developments could shape and influence the way we identify sources of energy and extract, convert, store and ultimately consume them over the next 35 years
David Eyton, group head of technology, and Angela Strank, head of technology, Downstream and BP chief scientist, share key insights from the BP Technology Outlook publication
Fuelling human and economic development
Since the 18th century, energy has helped to drive human and economic development, a process that continues today. This journey has been largely fuelled by fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – providing heat, power and mobility for industry and consumers.
The past three decades have seen a surge in these trends, driven by demand from emerging economies, led by China and India. However, consuming all of the available fossil fuel resources would create greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions well above the threshold recommended by scientists. For the future, we need energy that is affordable, sustainable and secure.
Three striking themes
BP’s Technology Outlook examines what technology can do in terms of access to primary energy resources, how it might change both the power and transport sectors, especially in the context of reducing carbon emissions, the impact of natural resource constraints on technological choices, and emerging technologies that have the potential to accelerate or disrupt energy models in the future. Our analysis highlights three striking themes:
- Technology has extraordinary potential to increase accessible primary energy resources, both fossil and non-fossil, while reducing their costs. Projected global energy demand at 2050 could be met many times over. The key question for policy makers and businesses becomes one of choice – which resources make sense to pursue given their relative costs and characteristics?
- Digital technologies have more widespread potential than any other technology area to transform energy production, supply and end use. They offer a real opportunity to improve safety and reliability, reduce costs and contribute to more efficient operations.
- Introducing a carbon price would open up a range of potential pathways for energy, with the power sector offering the most compelling options for decarbonization at comparatively low cost. For the transport sector, vehicles are set to become more energy efficient, with liquid fuels likely to continue to dominate the market whilst batteries become more cost competitive.