Computation, Energy and the Planet


These scenarios present four competing visions of the year 2041. Each provides a different account of how emerging technologies will help meet ever-increasing demand for computation and the energy it requires.

Our scenarios will seem realistic to some and implausible to others. They may be controversial. They are designed to provoke future-focused thinking, conversation and strategy development.

Developed with input from Imperial’s world-leading academic experts, we hope they will prompt the question, ‘What would it mean for us if this came true’?
Dive in and explore some possible ways that technological innovation could drive forward societal and economic change.

An Introduction from Julia Zanghieri – Associate Director, Engagement Services




Traditional energy – Classical computation
Energy management by small-scale optimisation



New energy –
Classical computation

Energy management by environment optimisation



Traditional energy – New computation
Energy management through grid optimisation



New energy –
New computation
Energy management by bottomless generation


Credits and acknowledgements
Authors and production

Nick Price, Claudio Sanna

Contributors by interview

Note that the interpretation of interview content for the report was subjective by the authors:

Professor Claire Adjiman, Dr Oytun Babacan, Professor Simon Bland, Professor Bruno Clerckx, Dr Jeffrey Hardy, Dr Thomas Heinis, Professor King Kuok “Mimi” Hii, Professor Myungshik S. Kim, Dr Robert Kingham, Dr Niloufar Raeishosseini, Professor Steven Rose, and Professor Alessandro Russo

Production team

(Imperial College London unless otherwise stated):

Ash Bhardwaj (Digital Dandy) (Video Production), Richard Brunner (Idion Films) (Videographer), Owen J. Cheshire (Marketing & Communications), Valerie Geiger (Vtype.co.uk) (Design and Layout), Jo Johnson (Marketing & Communications), Michael A Jones (Communications, Copyediting (& Troubleshooting)), Dr. Jing S. Pang (Academic Convenor), Christopher J. Parker (Startup Convenor), Nick Price (Author), Claudio Sanna (Author), David Silverman (Copyediting), Elizabeth A. Watson (Project Management), Mark Wearing (Website) (Herd) and Julia Zanghieri (Project Director)

Imperial Tech Foresight

Tech Foresight is an in-house futures research function. Drawing directly from the world-leading research and innovation at Imperial, the Tech Foresight team presents a unique perspective on future trends research. This research is used by businesses for strategy development and direction setting. Imperial Tech Foresight is one of the services provided by Imperial Business Partners, the College’s flagship corporate membership programme that provides a gateway to the forefront of science and technology.

Imperial College London

Imperial is consistently ranked amongst the world’s top ten universities and boasts a world-class reputation for teaching and research in science, engineering, medicine, and business. It is home to the greatest concentration of high-impact research of any major UK university.

Imperial is renowned for its application of science, innovation, and business to tackle global challenges and its collaborations, discoveries and networks are transforming lives and creating opportunity in the UK and around the world.


2041 Scenarios were produced by Imperial Tech Foresight to provide inspiration and visions of possible futures. They represent the independent opinions of the authors named above, and examples are purely illustrative and do not constitute any form of recommendation, validation, or investment advice.