Technology is the practical application of knowledge to achieve particular goals. This application almost always requires a certain amount of equipment and information. Technology usually has both benefits and drawbacks: often times the benefits are specific to the people who have access to the technology while the drawbacks often are felt by a wider population. Technology often uses energy currencies to provide services. Technology often has a fair amount of embodied energy, the energy needed to make the technology.
Every portion of the energy sector is rife with various technologies. Extracting resources like fossil fuels or harnessing primary energy flows like wind power requires technology. The entire energy infrastructure is an extensive application of innumerable technologies. Electrification (the ability to generate and transport electricity through the electrical grid) was voted the #1 technological achievement of the 20th century, followed by the automobile and the airplane.
Newer technologies often have extensive room for improvements (like different types of nuclear reactors or computers), but older technologies like batteries are often seeing only small, incremental improvements.
Need for technology
Often society, or governments want to develop specific technology for a specific purpose. This is referred to as supply push technology. This development aims at developing speciﬁc technologies through support for research, development and demonstration.
The other type of technology is demand pull. When people want technology badly, the technology sometimes gets created. This means that something has created a market or other incentives to encourage people to create particular knowledge to achieve a particular goal. One example of this is trying to generate low-carbon technologies through carbon pricing. It's thought that putting a price on carbon will encourage businesses to create new technologies. Sometimes a particular technology like solar power are encouraged through technology specific feed in tariffs.
People have long had strong emotional reactions to technology. Introduction of new technology often changes society and has unexpected consequences. Criticism is often leveled at technology that creates a deeper and deeper need for technology. For example, climate change has come about from the technology that burns fossil fuels, and there's concern that attempting to fix this with more technological solutions could make matters worse.
Technology is rarely abandoned once it's been found, until technology that meets the same needs in a more effective manner is introduced.
For Further Reading
- Verbruggen, A., W. Moomaw, J. Nyboer, 2011: Annex I: Glossary, Acronyms, Chemical Symbols and Preﬁxes. In IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation [O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs- Madruga, Y. Sokona, K. Seyboth, P. Matschoss, S. Kadner, T. Zwickel, P. Eickemeier, G. Hansen, S. Schlömer, C. von Stechow (eds)], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
- Wikimedia Commons [Online], Available: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/Power_lines_cross_-_geograph.org.uk_-_10429.jpg
- Wikimedia Commons [Online], Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport#/media/File:Fiat_Uno_3d_PICT0113.jpg
- Wikimedia Commons [Online], Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Airfrance.a318-100.f-guga.arp.jpg
- Flickr [Online], Available: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92334668@N07/11123530043
- Greatest Achievements. (August 28, 2015). Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century [Online], Available: http://www.greatachievements.org/