Since the beginning of time, humankind’s most defining evolutionary trait is the brain, allowing us to build tools that assist us in all domains of life. One era-defining tool was the computer, a brain machine that relies on a network of transistors that act as gateways, controlling the flow of electricity and interpreting it as logical data — binary code. Notably, as electronics get increasingly sophisticated, transistors decrease in size, approaching the size of an atom — following Moore’s Law. Nevertheless, reaching a nono-scale poses a different obstacle, where quantum tunneling renders such gateways non-existent. Therefore, quantum computers offer a quantum leap to this binary hurdle.

The Quantum Computing Market — Present and Future:

With the emergence and rapid growth of quantum computing, the world expects an exciting new age of innovation and problem-solving. Additionally, quantum computing entails what is arguably the most robust climate impact. To illustrate, as estimated by IBM, while a complex problem would take an ordinary supercomputer one week, a quantum computer could solve the same problem in merely 1 second. Yes, a diminutive fraction. With that in mind, one might ask, “doesn’t this mean a new wave of unicorns?” To answer that, in 2021, the market size of quantum computing was approximately $457.9 million. According to P&S Intelligence, by 2030, the market size is projected to exceed $5.274 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 31.2%. With such high expected market growth, numerous start-ups are emerging, bringing about investment opportunities and unimaginable possibilities for the near future.

The Climate Impact of Quantum Computing:

The impact quantum computing entails is incomparable to any other form of deep technology. As aforementioned, quantum computing allows us to conduct problem-solving much more rapidly and efficiently, granting the world access to a tool that impacts all in terms of social and climate impact.

During the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, 120 world leaders and 40,000 other participants set goals to limit global average temperature increase to 1.5°C  above pre-industrial patterns. Nevertheless, realizing these goals by 2030 would denote a $4 trillion yearly investment — the most significant reallocation of capital in history — with the resulting warming reduction to 1.7°C-1.8°C by 2050. 

Among the climate impacts of quantum computing, according to McKinsey, are:

  • The reform of food and forestry.
  • The advancement of batteries.
  • The refinement of industrial operations.
  • The decarbonization of power and fuel.
  • Aiding both types of carbon capture.

Therefore, several areas of the economy, which largely contribute to the global carbon footprint, could be transformed by quantum computing. Consequently, as projected by McKinsey, by 2035, such actions could result in the elimination of more than seven gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, on an annual basis, with the potential to help reach the 1.5°C mark.

Breakthroughs In-progress

With the transformative nature of quantum computing, funding has begun being allocated, breakthroughs have been catalyzed, and several start-ups have emerged, including Qiskit, Quantum Machines, Quandela, and more. Additionally, big tech companies have begun developing what has been coined noisy intermediate-scale quantum machines (NISQ). Most notably, the world of quantum computing has been led by IBM, with a promise of achieving a 1000-qubit quantum computer, Condor, later this year and 4000 qubits by 2025.

With this metamorphic advancement and its remarkable impacts on the rise, what sort of unforeseeable problems will this quantum leap unveil?