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Science Museum announces major new climate change gallery

Energy Revolution: The Adani Green Energy Gallery
Free interactive gallery, opening 2023

Today the Science Museum announced a landmark new gallery examining how the world can undergo the fastest energy transition in history to curb climate change. The announcement was made as delegates gathered for a Global Investment Summit hosted at the museum by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The gallery will explore the latest climate science and the energy revolution needed to cut global dependence on fossil fuels and achieve the Paris targets to limit global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Visitors to the new gallery will see how data visualisations and future projections are key to generating knowledge, informing decisions about how we live and stimulating creative and innovative solutions. ’Imagining our collective future, as this gallery will encourage, provides us all with a powerful action programme,’ says Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Science Museum Group. ’This gallery will take a truly global perspective on the world’s most urgent challenge. We face a grave threat, but the future is not predestined – it is still in our hands if we can build the coalition required for urgent and far-reaching action.’

The gallery will highlight moments from the past when energy futures were imagined. For example, it was by imagining a world powered through electricity that American inventor Thomas Edison created the world’s first public electricity network in 1882. Mains cables known as Edison tubes connected the first coal-fired electricity power station to nearby homes and businesses in London. This revolutionary network established how electricity is supplied today. A rare surviving Edison tube, on display for the first time after recently joining the Science Museum Group Collection, will enable visitors to marvel at this engineering feat when the new gallery opens in 2023.

The gallery will draw on the Science Museum Group Collection and loans, deploying a range of interactive and digital storytelling techniques to reveal the latest science as well as exploring energy revolutions of the past and future. Energy Revolution is supported by Adani Green Energy, the leading solar power developer which aims to be the world’s largest renewable power generating company by 2030, as Title Funder. Dame Mary said: ‘We’re hugely grateful to Adani Green Energy for the significant financial support they are providing for this gallery.’

’We are delighted to support the Energy Revolution gallery, which will explore how society can power the future through low carbon technologies,’ said Mr Gautam Adani, Chairman of Adani Green Energy. ’The Renewable Energy revolution to get to this point has been remarkable. The limitless power of the wind and sun is awe inspiring and our ability to harness that power is finally within reach. There is so much to learn from the history of this journey as the world writes a cleaner future and who better than the Science Museum team to depict this inspiration.’

As inventors and engineers sought to establish future modes of transport over the past two hundred years, electric cars were imagined many times. One early example, the Bersey electric cab, was envisioned as an improvement to horse-drawn taxis. Designed by Walter Bersey and built by the Great Horseless Carriage Company in 1897, it could reach 9 mph and cover up to 30 miles. However, this electric taxi was an idea ahead of its time, with breakdowns and expensive batteries making its operation unprofitable. It is only in the last few years that the dream of mass-produced electric vehicles has become a reality.

Our understanding of climate change is founded on projections of how Earth’s systems will change in the future. These projections are made possible because of long-term global observations that show how our planet is already changing. One fundamental series of observations was initiated in 1958 by Charles David Keeling, who began measuring carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. One of the air-sampling flasks he used will be on display in the new gallery. These measurements continue around the world and provide crucial information about the relentless rise of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, so this flask provides a stark visual reminder of human influence on our planet.

Energy Revolution: The Adani Green Energy Gallery is being developed around four thematic sections, each providing a different lens on this century’s defining challenge:

Alternative Futures uses examples from history to scrutinize the moments when people have imagined different kinds of energy futures – often at times of crisis – and the story of the energy shifts that have shaped our world. Past visions of the future remind us that our current energy system was not inevitable – and that many futures were possible.

Future Planet considers present day projections of the future, looking at how climate scientists use complex climate models to understand Earth’s systems, and what these tell us about the scale and nature of future climate impacts.

Future Energy and Power focuses on the technologies with potential to support a global shift to a low carbon future and explores how trajectories of change are influenced by local geographical, social and political factors.

In Future Living we look at how everyone’s lives are entangled with energy systems that determine how we live, work and get around. This section explores people’s ability to influence our energy future and the prospect of a ”just energy transition” that allows better living standards in developing nations.

The new gallery will replace Atmosphere, which has welcomed more than six million visitors since it opened a decade ago.