[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the July 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

You could laugh at all the scenarios, pledges—and fights—about getting the world to net zero by 2050. An admirable goal that all industries, governments and consumers should pursue, yes. But that is 30 years away, a full generation. Who knows what will ensue between now and New Year’s Eve, 2050? Did anyone foresee the iPhone, SpaceX, an electric Mustang, the Peloton, drilling a 12,000-ft horizontal through shale or Phil Mickelson winning another major?

Most of us who really understand where energy comes from, how it is stored, transmitted, scaled-up, made commercially viable—well, sorry to inform you, but we’ll be gone from the Earth in 30 years.

The task before us is enormous, exciting and threatening at the same time. Solutions abound; some are questionable. Last March, Rystad Energy pointed out that if we were to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, “the significant utility solar PV installed capacity required to meet the target would occupy around 13,412 square miles of land … roughly 50 times the size of Austin, Texas.

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