How Will We Meet the Energy Demands of the Coming Megacities?


Odds are you live in a city. In fact, more than half the world today lives in cities and by 2050, it’s expected that two-thirds of the world will be residing in cities.

While smaller cities struggle to modernize to support the influx of people, who are often poor and looking for work and essential services, the scale of need for megacities (defined as 10+ million people) is at least an order of magnitude in difference. In the last 25 years, the number of megacities in the world has grown from 10 to 28, home to nearly half a billion of the human race. By 2030, the number is expected to increase to 41.

But the rise and swell megacities will come at a price: energy needs will be enormous. How those needs are met will have significant and potentially detrimental effects on the environment. Today, things look dire—even though 6.7% of the global population currently live in megacities, their energy demand produces 12.6% of world’s solid waste.

In light of this, the need for scalable energy solutions for megacities is paramount.

Speaking at a recent Executive Program hosted by Singularity University, Faculty Chair of Energy & Environmental Systems Gregg Maryniak suggested a progressive solution to the energy demands of the coming megacities: space-based solar power.

Simply put, satellites in orbit would collect energy from the Sun, convert it into microwave form, and beam it to a collector on the surface (check out for an interactive infographic on the topic). It’s the stuff of science fiction, but considering how emerging technologies are rapidly transforming the world today, we may be ready for some space age energy solutions.

What do you think: can space-based solar energy meet the energy demand of megacities? Is there a better way?

To learn more about Singularity University’s Executive Programs, click here.

[image courtesy of Shutterstock]