Technological breakthroughs could have a large impact on energy, and not just transitioning to sustainable energy sources.
Grid-scale storage of electricity — very expensive techniques to store electrical power by converting to potential energy (like compressed air or pumped water) may be replaced by flow batteries, liquid-metal batteries, flywheels, and ultracapacitors, dropping price of storage by 70%-80%, for example.
But the one that sounds most promising, and what technologies may intrude in our everyday lives at work and at home?
Matt Rogers, Five technologies to watch – McKinsey Quarterly
Compressorless air conditioning and electrochromic windows. Today, it costs about $3,000 to $4,000 a year to run a high-efficiency air conditioner in a hot region, and even the efficient windows now commonly used allow 50 percent of the cooling energy to escape. New compressorless air conditioners dehumidify the air with desiccants rather than the traditional “compress/decompress” refrigeration cycle. Electrochromic window technologies change the window shading, depending on the temperature difference between outside and inside. These technologies offer the potential to cut home-cooling bills in half. Advanced windows also could slash heating costs by half, allowing the sun to warm houses while keeping the cold out—the new windows are often better than the standard attic insulation in cold-climate homes today. These technologies are expensive now, but by 2020 they should cost only about half as much to install as current state-of-the-art cooling and window technologies do.