As we approach the next decade of the 21st century, it becomes clear to most energy professionals that more and more alternatives are available on the market that directly or indirectly compete with liquid, dense, transportable energy commodities. This is only possible because we already have an infrastructure that was build with the help of fossil fuels. It would not have been possible just on the basis of renewable energy, as wind and solar power, biogas do not have sufficient EROI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) to make it worthwhile to undertake such projects on the scale that we saw in the last 100 years or so.
An economy based on renewable energy necessitates that continuous investments are being made in the fossil fuel infrastructure and fuel economy that fuels to this very day our global economy, which will form the basis on which the renewable energy revolution rests.
In this new energy paradigm, information sharing will play a pivotal role. Information sharing and the digital exchange of information allows us to cut inefficiencies in the electricity networks and in the energy infrastructure that we have build to support our lives.
We should also keep in mind that the energy infrastructure we currently have was build to maintain an economy of credit, which is an expanding economy, which is an economy of upward mobility for the whole population. A steady state economy would be one that reflects the parameters set by electricity production of renewable energy sources. As the EROI is too low, we no longer will be in a position to expand our economy. It also means we will have a hard time to further expand into new fields of economic activity, and undermine our ability to grow the energy system (by which I mean the energy infrastructure that we have already build). Even with the most advanced storage options for electricity, this still is a problem for Western Civilization.
This leads to a dilemma: Does renewable energy lead to a more unequal society? Do we need more LNG from faraway places to cover our basic energy needs so that we can tell ourselves that everything is fine?