Research

New consciousness: A societal and energetic vision for rebalancing humankind within the limits of planet earth

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Abstract

Presentation on the occasion of the World Conference of Futures Research 2015: Futures Studies Tackling Wicked Problems (17th International Futures Conference) in Turku on June 12, 2015.

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... A 100% renewable energy based solution provides a distinctive and appealing alternative. Recent studies suggest that 100 % renewable energy system can meet increasing energy demand (Breyer et al. 2016), and with declining marginal costs of production (Rifkin 2014), possibly lead to a world of sustainable abundance -one "without guilt" (Lord 2014). The challenge is harnessing this energy potential. ...
Technical Report
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This report presents the results of the “Neo-Carbon Energy World – What Opportunities for Chile?”, a futures clinique organised at the Chilean Intellectual Property Institute INAPI in Santiago de Chile 24th October 2016, jointly by Finland Futures Research Centre of the University of Turku and Consejo Chileno Prospectiva y Estrategia (CChPE). Chile is a case study conducted in the foresight part of the Neo-Carbon Energy project. Chile is a country with robust renewable energy resources, which has received high attention by international investors and has led to a dramatic increase in the uptake of solar energy in the country. Chile is also a pioneer in economic development in Latin America, thanks to its steady political and economic conditions. The country keeps on investing in education to catalyze socio-economic development, but remains underpinned by the deepest inequalities in OECD countries. In the Futures Clinique, four transformative scenarios of 2050 of the Neo-Carbon Energy research project were used to analyse the relevance and opportunities of the energy transformation with renewable energy technologies in Chile. In the group work, each group worked on one of the four scenarios (Radical Start-ups, Techemoths, Do-It-Yourself Green Engineers, New Consciousness) to reflect the significance of this scenario to Chile. The participants of the Radical Startups group emphasized that the startup culture and enabling political focus have not taken up yet. No matter the nature and scale of an organization, they should put more effort in citizen well-being and societal needs. Those analyzing the Value-Driven Techemoths scenario found that at the moment, there are few Chilean technology companies. However, there are large enterprises in the country, in the hands of a few powerful families. A trajectory where their position strengthens would not automatically be beneficial to the society, unless these companies genuinely commit to commonly shared values of environmental protection, climate change mitigation, and social wellbeing. The Green DIY Engineers group found that their scenario was unfit as such for the Chilean context. Individual households were deemed as too small units and instead small towns and communities were seen as more suitable sized units for the do-it-yourself context. If these towns would have low hierarchies and that authorities that act based on local needs, such a model would be equitable and provide sustainable development for the country. According to the New Consciousness group, values would have to change considerably and citizen-driven change would have be re-established. As a profound, cross-cutting aim that drives the nation, deep ecological New Consciousness would be supported with open governance and new institutions of horizontal governance ensure the uptake of renewable energy and quality of life extremely locally. As a conclusion, energy is a complex phenomenon, and a revolutionary transformation of a sector as broad brings up its complex nature that touches upon social, economic, cultural and environmental values and norms. Economic diversification in an economy relying on its natural resources requires restructuring of the system. Simultaneously, decentralized energy production, such as the Neo-Carbon Energy project suggests, urges courage and trust, something that is often missed. Peer-to-peer mentality might be more difficult to adapt than ecological consciousness, as the political history, socio-economic inequality and culture constantly challenge trust and credibility. Government and public organizations that are distant to the needs and hopes of citizens are awarded with skepticism. If the country wants to be a pioneer of the renewable energy industry in Latin America, it should also question the intellectual ownership of the projects and investments as they are now, since most of them are typically foreign-driven. For further research, we are looking more deeply into the transformation of the renewable energy sector and the discussion as of now. It is also necessary to understand any previous social change processes in Chile and see whether the abovementioned features are evident there too. The question of national ownership of the process is similarly interesting. The Clinique process and scenarios need to be reviewed critically particularly when bringing into a new socio-cultural or economic context. The analysis phase needs to specified and determined better to avoid subjective perceptions. However, this exercise showcased well the loopholes and strengths of the method in an international context, and brought new perspective of thinking about the future with tens of energy sector experts in Chile with limited experience on participative and innovative working processes.
... A wholly renewable energy system can be achieved by 2050. It would be based mainly on solar and wind energy and their storage technologies [5,6]. This would signify a major shift in how energy is produced and consumed. ...
Article
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The article discusses possible futures of self-organising peer-to-peer work through four transformative scenarios constructed in the Neo-Carbon Energy research project. These futures images probe the futures of work from the perspective of peer-to-peer organisations and distributed renewable energy production. The scenarios lay a systemic view on the development of societies, studying how decentralised renewable energy with low costs could affect society and its social relations. We anticipate the emergence of a digital meaning society, in which the economy is based on the production of meanings and meaningfulness. The article analyses the results of a futures workshop on the futures of work by classifying them to seven core themes. The results of the analysis are compared to related implications for policy-making, and to the Millennium Project Work/Technology Scenarios 2050 for international perspectives. The article presents possible disruptions and key emerging issues, including the novel drivers for inequalities of peer-to-peer work.
... This outcome is lower than recent long-term PV demand estimates of about 90 TWp [80,81] based on a comparable PV supply share despite an identical assumed energy services demand, since the efficiency gains of the shift to power megatrend may be higher than previously anticipated (e.g. heat pumps and electric vehicles are 3-4 times more efficient and power-to-gas/liquids may be comparably efficient to biofuels and the conventional fossil fuel value chain [82,83]) and system benefits from sector integration. The most progressive global benchmarking scenarios can be confirmed by the key findings of this study, however, now based on a more sophisticated fundamental methodology. ...
Conference Paper
The global energy system has to be transformed towards high levels of sustainability for executing the COP21 agreement. Solar PV offers excellent characteristics to play a major role for this energy transition. Key objective of this work is to investigate the role of PV for the global energy transition based on respective scenarios and a newly introduced energy transition model developed by the authors at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). The available energy transition scenarios have no consensus view on the future role of PV, but a progressive group of scenarios present results of a fast growth of installed PV capacities and a high energy supply share of solar energy to the total primary energy demand in the world in the decades to come. These progressive energy transition scenarios can be confirmed by the LUT Energy system model. The model derives total installed solar PV capacity requirements of 7.1 – 9.1 TWp for today's electricity sector and 27.4 TWp for the entire energy system in the mid-term (year 2030 assumptions set as reference). The long-term capacity is expected to be 42 TWp and due to the ongoing cost reduction of PV and battery technologies, this value is found to be the lower limit for the installed capacities. The cost reductions are taken into account for the year 2030, but are expected to further proceed beyond this reference year. Solar PV electricity is expected to be the largest, least cost and most relevant source of energy in the mid-to long-term for the global energy supply.
Article
The purpose of this article is to review the futures studies activities performed in Finland, focusing especially on Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC). The activities include research, education as well as societal interaction and networking. The FFRC has proceeded from a small unit of three devoted persons in 1992 to one of the key futures research institutes in Europe with about fifty staff members, hundreds of research and developmental projects, and more than a thousand publications. Although acknowledging the variety of futures studies topics and approaches nourished by the researchers, we conclude that facilitating expert-based and stakeholder-based futures studies processes is the key competence of the FFRC. Hybrid methods are continuously developed, meaning combinations of more specific techniques. A proper mix of tools and approaches to gather, analyze, organize, and interpret data is always searched for. At the end of the article, we present four scenarios of the future of the FFRC jointly made by the staff.
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