The world is entering into a fourth major energy revolution. First we had the industrial revolution with the invention of steam technology to harness steam energy from fossil fuels, which then was followed by advances in electricity from fossil fuels, to drive electrical equipment. The third was advances in computing energy/power, ushering us into the information age. The fourth revolution will be characterized by the decentralisation of energy production – away from major corporations and state owned enterprises to the private sector and individual consumers. Soon the epoch of exploited underground fossil fuels and the resulting economic- and environmental costs will be something of the past.
It is already happening. It was estimated that in 2016, more than 60% of all new energy installations in the world were harnessing renewable energy. It is predicted that by 2020 this percentage will be 100%. Wind and Solar technology are making major contributions to the energy revolution, but full acceptance is still hampered by “intermittency” - where energy is only available when the sun shines and the wind blows. In light of the above critique, sustainable biomass energy will continuously play a major role. The term biomass is a broad and sweeping one, but, in essence, biomass is biological material from living or recently living organisms, most often referring to plant or plant derived materials. Unlike the intermittence of wind and solar power, biomass can be stored and used as baseload whenever necessary. Sustainable woody biomass, especially in the form of wood pellets, commercial or domestic, is key to reduce consumer reliance on fossil fuels and play a leading role in the fourth energy revolution. As a market leader in biomass energy solutions, Calore Sustainable Energy has been on the forefront of developing the sustainable biomass market in South Africa and Namibia. Since 2013 they have provided more than 6000 biomass solutions to the market delivering either hot air or hot water to residential and commercial applications. Their 61 megawatt per hour installed capacity can mitigate as much as 59.4 tons of Carbon Dioxide per hour and save as much as 72 kilolitres of water per hour, when compared to electricity generated from fossil fuels. Thus, when compared to “old energy from previous revolutions”, sustainable biomass solutions and other renewables, comes at a fraction of the economic and environmental costs and will continuously stimulate new economic opportunities and jobs. Mixing the most basic laws of thermodynamics with economics will bring about super charged progress, and a higher energy output enabling humankind to do more work efficiently and simultaneously empower the individual – this is and will continue to be the base of the fourth energy revolution taking us beyond the grid.