Opportunities and Challenges for the Energy Transition

J. Georg Bednorz, Eric Betzig; Moderator: Jürgen Mlynek

Category: Agora Talks

Date: 2 July 2024

Quality: HD MD SD

Opportunities and Challenges for the Energy Transition (2024) - J. Georg Bednorz, Eric Betzig; Moderator: Jürgen Mlynek



Main Hall

Moderator: Jürgen Mlynek
Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation, Germany


J. Georg Bednorz

Human-induced climate change, one of the dominant concerns of humanity, can only be slowed down by a drastic energy turnaround and the creation of a fully electric society. This requires a secure supply of electrical energy generated from renewable resources through increased efficiency in generation and handling.
Over the past three decades, an efficient technology based on copper-oxide superconductors has emerged that has the potential to transform the entire energy infrastructure. With current-carrying capacities orders of magnitude greater than copper, superconducting wires enable the construction of smaller, lighter, more powerful generators and motors that also conserve resources. In compact and lean power distribution and transmission networks, and in energy-intensive industrial processes, resistance losses are drastically reduced.
The use of superconductivity is not only expected in the field of energy infrastructure, but also in transportation and traffic. However, despite convincing advantages and a market potential that has been predicted for some time, a broad introduction into the markets has not yet materialized. This is partly due to an incomprehensible research policy but could be corrected by legislation with binding requirements for the use of new technical infrastructures.

Eric Betzig

In 1850, life expectancy worldwide was 40 years, and 90% of all mechanical work was done by humans and animals. Today the fossil-fueled Industrial Revolution has led to prosperity for billions at a level our ancestors would not have dreamed of. Nevertheless, billions remain energy poor, and between the two billion more to come, resource depletion, and environmental degradation, the energy economy must undergo both substantial growth and change in the coming years. However, given its immense size and 150+ years of worldwide investment and optimization, change may not come nearly as quickly as many hope or predict. I will discuss the challenges and opportunities for young scientists and engineers to contribute to what may prove to be the defining issue of the 21st century.