The new energy landscape: challenges and opportunities


Silvia Santini


March 2, 2010

Report due:

February 23, 2010 (First version)
March 16, 2010 (Camera ready version)


While the demand for electricity continues to grow worldwide, fossil fuels still provide for the vast majority of the global energy supply. At the same time, reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas are rapidly depleting and the localization of new extraction sites is getting increasingly costly. Considering that most critical infrastructures in developed countries heavily depend on a continuous availability of electricity, the dependency on fossil fuels also represents a looming security treat for those countries that do not dispose of own natural resources. In particular, the lack of competitive, alternative ways of producing energy induces a dependency on the supply in fossil fuels from countries that may be geographically, and politically, remote. Last but not least, the widespread use of fossil fuels is widely considered as the main cause for global warming and reducing their environmental impact is therefore of primary importance.

The urge for developing competitive, sustainable, and secure means to produce and distribute energy is therefore rooted in interleaved economical, political, and environmental concerns. While this new energy landscape may represent, using the words of venture capitalist John Doerr, the "biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century", it also poses a series of main political and technological challenges.

In this talk, we will provide a detailed description of the current energy landscape and the related challenges and opportunities. In particular, we will focus on the role that information and communication technologies may play in making production, distribution, and consumption of energy more sustainable, competitive, and secure.

Recommended bibliography:

Further resources:

ETH ZurichDistributed Systems Group
Last updated August 23 2010 01:54:45 PM MET ss