Does it make a difference if our models of energy and the economy are overly simple? I would argue that it depends on what we plan to use the models for. If all we want to do is determine approximately how many years in the future energy supplies will turn down, then a simple model is perfectly sufficient. But if we want to determine how we might change the current economy to make it hold up better against the forces it is facing, we need a more complex model that explains the economy’s real problems as we reach limits.We need a model that tells the correct shape of the curve, as well as the approximate timing. I suggest reading my recent post regarding complexity and its effects as background for this post.
The common lay interpretation of simple models is that running out of energy supplies can be expected to be our overwhelming problem in the future. A more complete model suggests that our problems as we approach limits are likely to be quite different: growing wealth disparity, inability to maintain complex infrastructure, and growing debt problems.Energy supplies that look easy to extract will not, in fact, be available because prices will not rise high enough. These problems can be expected to change the shape of the curve of future energy consumption to one with a fairly fast decline, such as the Seneca Cliff.
Source: Overly Simple Energy-Economy Models Give Misleading Answers
…while the energy consumption of Earth is still increasing, there is another trend where the energy intensity (the amount of energy needed to produce one unit of GDP) is decreasing.
via Human race 2015 Kardashev score — Scrub Physics
In the beginning, the Master Economist created the Economy. He created businesses large and small, consumers, governments with their regulation, and financial institutions of all types. And the Ma…
Source: How Energy Shapes the Economy
The need for large scale storage solutions come to the forefront as a means to adjust supply to demand on the electrical grid. Energy storage systems can adjust time of delivery to eliminate the need for peaker plants, allow for the addition of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, or allow for large users to reduce facility operating costs by using a storage system to supplement energy supply reducing peak demand, most notably for summer A/C loads in buildings.
Out of engineering research laboratories in materials science and electro-chemistry are coming new energy storage systems designed for the future to solve these issues meanwhile opening up new enterprises and industry. The characteristics of an ideal flow battery would include: a long service life, modularity and scalability, no standby losses, chargeability, low maintenance, and safe. In addition a flow battery will have to be economic compared to other systems which will need to be determined using LCOE analysis.