Understanding the Innovation Landscape needed for Enabling Technologies in the World’s Energy Transition

During this September to November 2019 period, I deliberately chose to have a 100% focus on the energy transition that the world is committing to as an undertaking, of reversing the rising global climate temperatures through a shift from fossil fuels to increasing commitments to renewables.

Renewables that give us greater sustainability and clean energy and dramatic reductions in carbon emissions.

I wrote twelve dedicated posts over this period, including this one, to highlight the important place innovation has within the energy transition that we are undertaking. View all the opening introductions on the “home page” and scroll down.

To have any chance to reverse these temperature rises there is an increasing emphasis on innovation solutions within the technology that is required for the Worlds energy system. Solutions are needed to shift from the world’s present reliance on fossil fuels to renewable cleaner fuels to stop the growing pollution and harmful effects of greenhouse gases (GHG) that carbon-emitting fossil fuels are causing to our planet and giving us global warming issues that are deeply worrying.

I drew down on many different resources to get my more in-depth understanding of an area that is partly passion and partly a business focus, but one resource has stood out for their detailed work on innovation and the energy sector’s needs. Continue reading

The Hard-to-Abate sectors need innovation solutions to reach Net-Zero Co2 Emissions

I have been looking at those Hard-to-Abate sectors for reaching Net-Zero Co2 Emissions like the cement, steel, plastics, aviation, shipping, and heavy road transport within our need for a global energy transition. These are the really big carbon emitters and it is argued that they could achieve, using known technologies already under development a pathway to complete carbonization over the next decades. It is going to require significant public policy will and private investment to drive both the present incremental solutions and push for the breakthrough ones. Innovation is really needed here.

There are six innovation areas of electrification, hydrogen, biochemistry and synthetic chemistry, material efficiency and circularity, alongside new materials and the ability to carbon capture and carbon use that need to have innovative solutions. Working on the innovations within these six critical areas does have a real chance of fully decarbonizing these harder-to abate sctors of the world’s economy.

Yet, let’s step back just a little and get some clarifications out of the way. They help frame this story.

In understanding the energy transition that is well underway, there are many companies and countries all proudly claiming dates for achieving their carbon neutral targets. Most of these centers around 2030, but where I keep coming back to is the discussions around Net-Zero carbon emissions. Is this a mission impossible? For me, all I hear about are the cities and companies all proudly announcing their target goals for achieving carbon-neutral, yet is this good enough in this rapidly warming world? I think not. Continue reading

The Digitalization of Energy

We are on the cusp of a new digital era in energy. Digital technology has been involved in the energy system for decades.

What is new, is the pace of digitalization occurring through technological innovation, providing solutions that enable the energy system to be transformed?

Digitalization across the energy landscape is determining the system-wide changes of connectivity; it is linking, monitoring, aggregating, and controlling assets to cause a fundamental “blurring” between who supplies and who consumes energy.

The old paradigm of central grids will undoubtedly continue to provide the energy infrastructure backbone and keep balancing the electricity transmission network, but there will be significant differences at the local level (final point of supply) to trade energy through different grid edge designs and services.

Digitalization brings us closer to the end-user – knowing your grid edge and how to respond Continue reading

Accelerating Innovation in the Energy Transition Journey

What fascinates me presently is the energy transition currently being undertaken, due to the enormous amount of innovation options being considered and applied. New technologies are changing the very nature of how energy is going to be produced and delivered over the next ten to twenty years.

When you consider how vital energy is to society anywhere in the world, you realize what a significant time this is to curb the carbonization and radically resign the system based on renewables and green electricity. It might sound obvious, but having access to energy is crucial to our daily lives; it powers everything we do. Not just in the home, in our business lives, in our ability to function, it enables us to be productive or simply “plugged-in.”

We are undergoing such a revolution that will have an impact on all of our lives. During the next ten to twenty years, we are in a race to transform our energy system, one that moves from fossil fuel reliant to clean fuels based on renewable energy. We need to decarbonize and make energy greener. Continue reading

Increasing innovation focus on the end-user segments within the energy transition story

When you investigate and research the energy transition that is underway, the higher focus to date has been on the progress to replace fossil fuel with renewable power generation technologies. As crucial renewable energy solutions (wind, solar) are falling in price comparison, we are beginning to see clean energy solutions for industry, for the environment, and society, as a whole. Energy transition and moving to renewable power generation, though, it is not happening fast enough.

We need to focus more on the active implementation of renewable energy solutions sooner than later. We are in an increasing race to work towards achievable goals to reduce global warming in the very ambitious time scales of the UN Paris climate agreement in 2016. This comprehensive agreement is to keep the global average temperature rise remaining below the two-degree Celsius agreed by 2050.

Presently we are failing behind this “two-degree pathway” deemed as essential, and we are currently forecasted to release more carbon and gases into the atmosphere, and that has severe repercussions for our planet.  Governments will need to introduce more substantive policies to meet the emission targets they signed up too and society, industry and us, as individuals will have to undergo adjustments to accommodate this in our habits, consumption, and usage.

It is not just replacing energy sources; it is all about solution renewal end-to-end Continue reading

Innovation adoption in the technology lifecycle for Energy Translation

Building the systems enabling framework. Source: World Economic Forum

Technological innovation has a central role to play in the Energy Transition currently being undertaken throughout the world. The shifts need to take the different parts of the energy system through a lifecycle approach to any future energy system

Briefly, our energy system has been based mostly on fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) and as we extract these, they are non-renewable and the primary cause of the carbonization crisis we are all facing on planet earth. The solutions to replace these fuels are renewables based on wind, solar, biofuels, and have a sustainability credential. The economics of powering the energy system with renewables has got to the point where there is real competitiveness so we can undertake this energy transition and reduce the emissions of carbon into our atmosphere. Continue reading

Confusion or Diffusion in Energy Transition?

Following on from my recent post, “Managing Energy Transition through Innovation,” let me build out the innovation argument further. Innovation needs to be talked up within Energy. It is the catalyst to all within the current energy transition underway.

There is this compelling and urgent need to accelerate low-carbon technology innovation if the world can achieve decarbonization of the energy sector between now and 2050, to significantly contribute to meet international climate goals set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The twin combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy seems to be the only plausible way to achieve 90% of the emissions reductions needed by 2050 with renewables accounting for two-thirds of the primary energy supply by this date (IRENA analysis).  The essential requirement for energy efficiencies and renewable energy needs is to come from significant technology innovation and systemic innovation, so as o achieve these ambitious numbers. Will it?

To undertake such a radical redesign of the energy system, to pilot and rapidly scale critical renewable energy technologies requires a dramatic set of shifts in such an energy transformation. Can we? Continue reading