I am have been struggling with the Hydrogen Story. It is tough to relate to something where the realization may take 40 years to move from ambition to achievement. I get it that delivering Hydrogen is the vital piece of the decarbonizing of the world by 2050, yet it does seem a long, hard road to travel.
Hydrogen is undoubtedly becoming the big agenda ticket within any Energy Transition. It is the promise of being a central pillar for many parts of the world to achieve their targets of zero carbon by mid-century.
Hydrogen seems to holds, it seems, such a promise, but it is nearly all to do. There is so much to validate, prove, and certainly scale. We have some exciting pilots, even some full commercial-scale projects. Still, these are not connected up as we do not yet have a Hydrogen infrastructure, market, or overarching policies to build into a movement that shifts the energy needle. Lots of desire and willingness, but we do need to really make “hydrogen happen.”
I needed to step back and reframe my thinking on Hydrogen and also to help me understand the bigger “beast” of the Energy Transition. There was so much “hype” and future promise I was not getting a real sense of order.
So I sort of came to a screeching halt on researching further. I needed to get back into my ‘comfort’ zone of evaluating all the hype. So I wanted to go back to a comfortable place to ground my thinking. I have been wondering, have we the right focus to this? Are we often missing the real context of the need for the energy transition? Are we building the capabilities, competencies, and capacity to scale Hydrogen? In my view, we lack a specific focus. Opinions are varied, diverse, and in many cases, merely opportunistic. We need to a different level of strategic fitness
Applying Fitness Landscapes to the Energy Transition. Here in this post, I want to briefly introduce some thinking around navigating a complex landscape that the Energy Transition demands. I have taken Hydrogen as my opening exploration to traverse this landscape.
The more you investigate Hydrogen, the more you realize the complexity of what needs to be achieved to deliver what has been suggested; that Hydrogen could meet 24% of the world’s final energy demands by 2050. Today it provides around 1%. I find it hard to imagine the change our energy systems need. To move them from a reliance on Oil, Gas, and Coal and make these Systems based on renewables of Solar, Wind and, Water- suggested at a level of real global magnitude, I find it hard to imagine. I always need to see the bigger picture.
Enter My Energy Transition Fitness Landscape thinking
I decided I should attempt to sort out the “chaff from the wheat,” try to separate all the hype surrounding Hydrogen, and attempt to ground it in different realities.
I mentioned in a recent post here that states, “My Energy Journey is being navigated across three-time and opportunity related horizons,” where I introduced the Three Horizon framing to help me navigate the Energy Transition.
I always need to anchor my investigations and research.
So as I investigate, build and explore the Energy transition by taking Hydrogen as the first one to explore through the three horizons approach, I get a high-level sense of the different phases that we need to pass through, moving from the present to the future. It helps map out the terrain. So much of what I am reading is pushing personal agendas.
This post is explaining my structures to attempt to understand the Energy Transition and bring us all to a specific fitness to make the journey of realization that Hydrogen is central to our climate goals.
So as I am investigating the Energy transition deeper, it needed another layering of understanding to put order into my thinking.
Navigating the Energy Transition Fitness Landscape
This grabbing of the three horizons framework is still not enough. The other thing was to revert back to another piece of work I have been deploying for some years and applying it here; Navigating the fitness landscape required to bring Hydrogen to fruition as the alternative energy source.
The value of fitness landscapes as part of any Energy Transition awareness makes sense. Let me explain this by keeping Hydrogen as the focus:
To attempt to “distill” all the thoughts about how Hydrogen is going to become the Energy Fuel of the future, I, for one, need to work through this logically.
I need to begin to evaluate the value of knowing the real part of any hydrogen ‘fitness’ and what makes up its distinctive dynamic capabilities that moves it towards the solutions we need to have. These can be, but not limited to Technology and Innovation, Scale and Adoption, Infrastructure and Market Conditions, Government Engagement and Involvement, Industry, and critically important, Public adoption.
I wrote a post, “Recognizing a Unique Part of the Hydrogen Ecosystem,” it gives more context if you care to read it. The Energy Transition can only work in an Ecosystem thinking approach.
I have further applied a Landscape thinking to the Hydrogen challenges.
I propose it is necessary to map out the hydrogen terrain.
What I have been working through is the thinking here to put the Hydrogen story along a clear pathway for me to understand. I would like to attempt to explain the rationale behind this.
Turn away now if you are not up to a theoretical outline, but it is the best way to explain its value in helping us in figuring out the Energy Transition as a journey. Once you grasp the principles, you can “map, travel, and traverse.”
I am hopeful it might help your understanding of the process we all need to work through, to relate to the ‘Hydrogen story and its potential.’
It goes like this:
By firstly, mapping out the hydrogen terrain to the task at hand enables us to understand and relate to what is needed – I call that the context for change.
Fitness Landscapes helps in this task by identifying the opportunity spaces on where you need to focus your efforts‐ and apply the appropriate resources to navigate the terrain. The greater understanding of the ‘fitness points needed’ can transform your hydrogen landscape potential, or in business parlance, achieve your goal.
Achieving this fitness accelerates your opportunities into final tangible outcomes. Here is a little bit of the theory: you look for those critical factors that will give higher value potential or ‘peaks’ that are more valuable to your needs.
The more ‘rugged’ the landscape, those challenges and peaks, the tougher the energy transition becomes for hydrogen to traverse. The harder these are, also determines the higher fitness for the rate of change needed.
The height of the peaks in these landscapes, in technology solutions, in Government support, in delivering research and development that can take ‘promising’ technologies or concepts, the greater value should be placed upon them.
As you identify how intense the transition challenge is, and as you determine, the number of critical peaks needed to be surmounted shows how diverse and awkward the whole terrain is, to get to any realization.
The more you can identify all the Hydrogen challenges, in this case, then you can scope out and recognize the appropriate resources this will need in Global coordination.
Presently Hydrogen is in exploratory phasing.
The search for validation of a concept, to show it has some pathway to scaling up gives us the path and ability to identify the emerging patterns and scope. From these pilots and initial investments provides the need to further act and invest, We are making adaptive even exploratory walks to provide the appropriate resources needed.
Understanding these will enable you to move you to the higher fitness points where the viability of Hydrogen is enhanced and needed to be to resolve the challenges to be faced as they multiply and need phased resolution.
You need to experiment, to take the exploratory ‘walk’s to realize the potential, and learn how to scale accordingly. Many on this journey at present for understanding where and how Hydrogen fits. We need to build capabilities, capacities, and competencies so they become essential to even begin to enter this race to a Hydrogen future.
As you begin to think of your capabilities and capacities to instigate change, it raises critical questions. These are around “are we focusing on the right ones to deliver on the challenges we are facing?” “what can we do differently?” and “how can we identify those critical ones?”
Mapping out your capabilities, competencies, and capacities to the task at hand enables you to understand and relate to what is needed. You begin to get fit for the journey ahead.
Any Energy Transition Fitness Landscapes identifies the opportunity spaces on where you need to focus your efforts- the appropriate resources to navigate the terrain. The greater the ‘fitness’ transforms your landscape potential into accelerating opportunities into final tangible outcomes.
The ability to identifying the emerging patterns provides the need to act and invest, making adaptive even exploratory walks. These adaptive walks move you to the higher fitness points where innovation viability and visibility is enhanced and needed to be identified, then resolved to be fitter for the challenges being faced.
Higher fitness equates to more value creation potential. The ability to inter-couple landscape entities and exploit individual interactions alters your dynamics to innovate and improve repeatable cycle times.
Why Fitness Landscapes?
“The greater the fitness to evolve and innovate will equate to more value creation potential.”
The pressing need for any complex system of change is to integrate, build, and reconfigure it in a structured way.
Fitness landscapes provide an understanding of the existing position and ‘point’ to where to place your resource to improve your innovative capacity through understanding the dynamics of ALL the parts to know where you are heading.
If we are not aware, fit, or ready to navigate the terrain and do not have a clear understanding of where we are heading, just a vague idea of “achieving zero-carbon by 2050,” we are likely to get lost.
Hydrogen is far too over-hyped at present; let’s get it grounded in reality and build it accordingly.
We all need to get energy fit. If Hydrogen is our decarbonization solution, we really do need to stop the ‘hype’ and get the rhetoric clear to provide the pathway of understanding. We need to get fit quick to enable hydrogen to exert its (rightful) place in any Energy Transition.
We must make sure that the journey has to be far better explained to allow ‘many’ to navigate the Energy Transition Landscape.
Understanding the value creation potential of fitness landscapes
The greater awareness of your fitness and the terrain and goal you want to achieve equates to more value creation potential.
The ability to take Hydrogen beyond much of today’s hype and “future promise” is to ground our understanding in realities, in knowing the landscape and terrain we have to navigate, if we want to emerge successfully on the other side of the energy transition. Knowing the possible terrain makes us all better prepared. Let’s treat any Energy Transition as a long journey that we all need to measure ourselves again, in progress, in fitness, and in moving towards the ultimates goals we have set ourselves.