Investment companies like to talk about the disruptive nature of technologies and how they change industries while simultaneously changing our lives. The growing emphasis on a low-carbon economy has spotlighted a number of technologies as being disruptive in their industry sectors. One hears this frequently when discussing wind and solar power. Clearly, these two technologies are changing the face of the utility industry, but at least at present, they still represent a fairly small fraction of the overall business.
Every stage of civilization is characterized by its use of energy. From burning wood to steam engines to our electrified society, energy is behind everything we do. Over time, human society has become increasingly energy intensive. As our standards of living have improved and as we overcome the effects of weather – either cold or warm – it takes more and more energy to live the lives we lead.