Equinox Summit day 4: An overview of the future

The closing session of the Equinox Summit on Thursday afternoon brought together the many great minds that discussed the future of energy throughout the week at the Perimeter Institute. Several advisors, scientists and future leaders presented the Equinox Communiqué that summarized the process of collaboration and the ideas for energy generation, distribution and storage that should be implemented by 2030.

The purpose of the summit was to “reboot the global dialogue” on energy, according to Waterloo Global Science Initiative (WGSI) coordinator Julie Wright.

“We face enormous challenges in the decades ahead,” said Wilson da Silva, content team leader for the summit, referring to our consumption of fossil fuel. A video played recapping the problem showed that the reliance on carbon-based energy is not only draining those sources, but harming the planet.

Jatin Nathwani, a scientific advisor for the summit and Ontario research chair, discussing the increasing need for energy as the world’s population is set to grow to 9 billion by 2050 stated plainly, “All new growth to be met must be non-carbon.”

Baseload technologies, ensuring that energy is constantly available for use, focused on nuclear, geothermal and renewables with large-scale storage facilities.

Yacine Kadi, an applied physicist for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, explained that improvements in nuclear technology has made it safer, and furthermore, finding ways to recycle nuclear waste will ensure its renewability.

Geothermal technology is already proving to be a successful renewable energy source. Robin Batterham, AO FREng FAA FTSE, president of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) – one of Australia’s four Learned Academies – and is a former Australian chief scientist, explained that what is needed for geothermals is investments to fund 10 large-scale projects to discover any flaws in the technology and perfect it for reliability.

“No body likes to be first with major investments,” said Batterham, adding that Google has already invested in a drilling company, encouraging more people to pay attention to the technology.

While wind and solar energy are often criticized for the lack of reliability when the wind stops blowing, or the sun stops shining, Zoë Caron, climate policy and advocacy specialist for WWF-Canada and Maria Skyllas-Kazacos, professor emeritus for the University of New South Wales, presented technology for new batteries that are able to store energy from renewable resources.

Following presentations focused on the electrification of transportation, with electric bikes, cars and buses to change the way we commute in urban centres. Bringing electricity to rural places around the world that are currently in the dark was another topic of technology that is being improved.

Ultimately, the future of energy that was communicated will require a collaboration, much like the summit, in order to meet the needs of a growing population and not harm the natural environment.

John Matlock, director of external relations and communications for Perimeter Institute, closed the summit, reiterating that work will continue to be done to bring together the ideas expressed and develop a more concise plan for 2030. The WGSI website will act as a hub for any new develops and maintain the archived videos of the speakers and panels from this week.

Click here for coverage of day one.

Click here for coverage of day two.

Click here for coverage of day three.