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A vision of the 2030s

The demand for energy will continue to increase as our society becomes more digitally connected and integrated, which will put pressure on resources and security of supply, increasing global tensions and economic pressure for innovation.

The energy production infrastructure will become increasingly resilient, robust and efficient, as well as more decentralised and operating under new business models.

Energy systems and energy use will change significantly in response to climate change targets, supported by proactive, evidence-based legislation and education to help change consumer behaviour.

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What does this mean for energy?

Supply - There will be increasing demands on our energy supply due to the accelerated electrification of transport and the increase in data and communication infrastructure.

Measurement will enable new, innovative and low-carbon energy generation technologies.

Examples include: the next generation of nuclear fission plant, nuclear fusion (such as compact laser inertial, magnetic confinement or stellarators), combined gas power (including hydrogen and biomethane) and carbon sequestration plants.

Demand - Pressures on our energy supply will be reduced through more efficient equipment, new generation methods and more sustainable systems.

Measurement will enable the next generation of low-power, low-loss electronics, communication technologies and computer systems.

Measurement will underpin the development of evidence-based energy policies and regulations and support the evolution of social values on energy use.

Decentralisation - Electricity generation will become widely distributed and a smart, secure and resilient network will be needed to exploit and smooth fluctuations in supply and demand.

Measurement will enable decentralisation, maximise efficiency and ensure an AI-enabled, smart grid infrastructure.

Examples include: small, portable and modular nuclear reactors, development of a diverse gas system infrastructure, increased use of hydrogen as a fuel or blended with natural gas, offshore wind and large-scale solar development, the use of networked batteries, microgeneration, hydrogen as a storage mechanism, portable power sources, supercapacitors.

Commercial - New business models for grid operation will emerge to balance supply and demand between consumers and a growing number of producer/consumers.

Measurement will be needed to ensure accurate and fair energy sale and purchase and enable demand-side response programmes.

Examples include: modelling and predicting of intermittent and distributed energy supply, improved conversion and storage management through smart grid technologies, new business models for energy sale and purchase.

Energy: implications for measurement

Metrology, or the science of measurement, is about more than the routine making of measurements, it’s about the infrastructure that ensures that we have confidence in the accuracy of the measurement or the adoption of technology. Foresighting has highlighted technological trends for metrology based on our vision for energy:

  • Computationally intensive modelling and simulation of the whole energy grid will benefit from the increased computing power, such as quantum, neuromorphic and spin-based computation.
  • Low-power, wireless devices and sensors will be enabled by bio-inspired systems and electronics, energy harvesting from the environment, wireless electricity and long-distance wireless charging.

Discover more about The future of metrology

Other industries

Discover our vision for the 2030s.

More information

Find out more about the findings of Technology and Measurement Foresighting.

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