The crucial role Innovation must play in the Energy system

Innovation is vital to the energy system’s integration and operation design, and we need to further recognize its crucial role. I believe we undertake a radical transformation in the way we supply, transform, and use energy. This requires a profound transformation in technologies, systems, and infrastructure.

Innovation is made up of many enabling technologies that support energy. This complexity requires innovative approaches to be built in highly systematic ways. Its ultimate result is to offer innovation that can continually look for re-imagining new market designs and business models to stimulate the changes and solutions for our future energy transformation.

Innovation needs to be transformational, offer greater value than what it is replacing, show the real advantage, set out to achieve competitive gains and offer a higher level of sustainability, value and impact.

We need an innovating mantra for energy.

Energy is a vital part of any country’s ability to be competitive. Today half the world’s capital is invested in energy and its related infrastructure as it is the backbone of any industrial and urbanization strategy.

Our need is to keep pushing for discoveries, for experimentation, for demonstrating. We must nurture innovation, and we must continuously look for ways to facilitate its pathway.

Our economic prosperity will be determined by transforming the energy sector, and it is through innovation we will achieve this. To avoid the predicted consequences of climate change, the global energy system must rapidly reduce its emissions.

The vast majority of global CO2 emissions come from the energy production sector, from our buildings or transportation systems. They all need a purposeful design of a new, cleaner energy system.

Innovation needs to be at the top of its game, to be accelerated and scaled.

The energy transition that the world is undertaking is one of the most critical areas where innovation needs to be at its absolute best, top of the game, to make the level of change necessary. We need to deploy every innovative tool to leverage ideas and discoveries and then accelerate the validation into a commercialization path sooner than later.

Innovation needs to get out of the laboratories, moved from theory to application, and off the desk of those executives who fail to see the urgency of change we need to achieve the energy transition.

Innovation has risk always associated with it, but that imperative to push the boundaries does need always to be constantly in our minds; global warming, pollution, and resource finite are our “burning platform.”

We need to ramp up our need for solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, redesign energy generation, transmission, and distribution and bring a balance back into our environments.

Pushing our present understanding, looking beyond the knowns.

  • Today the solutions are centred on decarbonization, applying digitalization, and switching to an energy system that is more decentralized than at present. It is finding imaginative, innovating solutions that become essential to achieve this climate change through the energy transition we are undertaking.
  • Each organization within the energy transition looks at its own position and applies any changes to advance its competitive position. Quite rightly, but in focusing on one specific perspective, you can lose the bigger opportunity.
  • We need to extend the reach of electricity; we need to focus on Hydrogen, validate carbon capture and storage (CCUS) as well as bioenergy and take them out of the lab, out of the realms of theory and validate the innovation concepts into scalable ones that deliver the gaps we have in our energy transition.
  • We must find innovative solutions to reduce local air pollution, strengthen energy security, and develop a more significant energy system that is resilient to minimize the shutdowns and power outs. We need to find solutions to reliable and sustainable energy solutions that deal with heating, lighting, cooking, and cooling. Any change needs to find a way to create local economic value and jobs, as others in any change of this magnitude will be displaced.
  • As we search for enabling technologies, we need to constantly facilitate the integration of renewable energy, accelerate storage, explore sector coupling, introduce new ways to operate within the electricity system, seek out new power generation, design the grids for increased flexibility and digitalize solutions to provide further services, tools and distributed generation deployment knowing how to diffuse innovation in these general five approaches becomes valuable.
  • We need to continue to de-carbonize challenging industry sectors like steel, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, or our transportation systems if we wish to achieve any positive outlook of curbing carbon emissions and moving onto a pathway towards a zero-carbon future.

Innovation and showing progression give market confidence and encouragement that the innovation story is designed to take decisions through this innovation adoption approach.

Everything we are looking at in energy solutions faces a scalability challenge. 

It will be the ability to harness the existing with the new, and this is the role of innovation to deliver the changes by being the bridge and being the catalyst of change with new technology and innovative solutions.

Innovation adoption in the technology lifecycle for Energy Translation

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.

The six critical focal points of the energy transition.

The six main thrusts for technological innovation within the Energy Systems for today’s energy transition are:

  1.  To accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies throughout the system.
  2. There is a real need to find innovative solutions that focus on the end-user sectors of transport, industry, and buildings.
  3. The technological and digital innovative solution needs to focus on the overall system design and the operation needs.
  4. Innovation needs to increase electrification through emerging solutions on the grids’ digitalisation and provide grid-scale energy storage for resolving variable renewable power and building out further energy storage.
  5. To push, nurture, and facilitate different energy sources to provide solutions to scale them up. These include solar power, geothermal, biopower, hydropower, onshore and offshore wind and finally tidal power.
  6. Lastly, innovation needs to achieve an affordably decarbonize industrial transition.

Many new innovation solutions need to continually unlock the system’s flexibility.

Besides technological innovation, there is growing potential for redesigning operational systems through new services, tools, and distributed generation deployment. There are opportunities to find fresh market designs that have demand-response models central to then provide new, more tailored services and then the exciting potential of designing new business models that look to greater co-creation, more flexible power purchase agreements and bring the consumer into the system as contributors, aggregators and highly energy aware.

My focus is on innovating energy.

Innovation must be at the forefront of the energy change; otherwise, we will fail to deliver on the 2050 commitments and goals, and that will have consequences for our very existence as we know it.

Besides writing about innovation and energy on two dedicated blogs of innovating4energy.com and digital4energy, I recently launched a complimentary website of innovating4energy.website, one that is laying out my business positioning and offerings to help in accelerating innovation within the energy system. That “open for business” sign.

I set out to offer the external perspective to those busy inside organizations focusing on mapping out the future of energy and where they fit to support, compliment, and provide different value points to this thinking and eventual work. I see this as more advisory to complement their insights, more feeding into and complimenting their expertise with different points of value.

** published simultaneously here and on my innovating4energy.com site relating to “all things” in the Energy Transition.

Energy technology needs more rapid innovation cycles

I have been consuming the latest flagship report, released today, 10th September 2020, by the IEA called “Energy Technology Perspectives 2020

The report’s comprehensive analysis maps out the technologies needed to tackle emissions in all parts of the energy sector, including areas where technological progress is still lacking such as long-distance transport and heavy industries.

It shows the amount of emissions reductions that are required from electrification, hydrogen, bioenergy and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. It also provides an assessment of emissions from existing infrastructure and what can be done to address them.

Within the work going into this report, the IEA has identified over 800 technology options that need to be further examined, explored, validated, and accelerated for the World to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. That is an awful lot of innovation to get us to a clean energy transition from where we are today.

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Innovation has the power to unlock the Energy Transition

The energy shifts undergoing in the energy transitions today are allowing real innovation opportunities when you survey the innovation landscape.

There is complexity in all the energy transitions going on. Still, it is the ones that can see the possibilities and ‘energize’ through new innovative solutions that hold the future in our hands to capitalize upon as fast as we can..

All we can predict is that the pace of innovation and energy transition will speed and then scale up to meet the needs of a world rapidly wanting to decarbonize, and the companies that are the investors in innovation will be the best placed to capitalize on this.

During the next ten to twenty years, we are in a race to transform our energy systems, one that moves from fossil fuel reliant to clean fuels based on renewable energy. Innovation is the catalyst for this. Continue reading

From MW to GW’s of Renewable Hydrogen using Electrolyzers

I was listening to a short chat between Armin Schnettler, the SVP New Energy Business, Siemens Energy, and Kevin O’Donovan. Kevin, without doubt, is an outstanding, knowledgeable technology evangelist for all things relating to the Energy Transition.

The two briefly discussed green Hydrogen and where Electrolyzers will fit within the future strategy of building a broader Hydrogen business. You can watch the 4-minute chat here on YouTube.

The conversation triggered several questions that I decided to find out about, research, and learn and covered in two posts, this one and one specifically on Electroyzers over on my dedicated Energy Transition site of https://innovating4energy.com

I certainly believe we will see emerging a lot of new inventions and innovations to get the Electrolyzer based on PEM technology Industrial ready. Continue reading

Sharply accelerating clean energy innovation

Today the International Energy Agency (IRA) released a long-awaited update on where innovation needs to be in the energy transition we are undergoing.

At their own admission, it has been three years since they (IEA) released its last Energy Technology Perspective (ETP) report. Although they argue they have been reflecting on the critical technology challenges, it is way overdue.

In this new report, “Energy Technology perspective: Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation” released today, 2nd July 2020, they have developed some improved modeling tools to bring a higher capacity to answer key technology questions in greater detail. This is good news.

IEA will further follow up later this year with a flagship ETP 2020 publication later in the year to keep a tighter and more consistent focus on the role and need of innovation to accelerate clean energy transitions.

They, the IEA are planning an IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit really soon to convene ministers and CEO’s to the aim of driving economic development by this more robust focus on clean, resilient, and inclusive energy systems. Continue reading

The Innovation Intensity needed in the Energy Transition

The level of innovation intensity within the Energy Transition is a fascinating one and one I continually place more and more a focus upon.

One really critical source of reference for tracking clean energy progress comes from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The recent reporting back on the development of the energy transition we are undertaking seems depressing reading. We need to accelerate innovation and technology adoption.

We are so off track for much of the Energy Transition. if we are going to get anywhere near the Paris Agreement, and the below 2-degree climate goal set by 2050, we need to focus even more on transforming our energy systems globally.

The IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) offers a pathway for the global energy system to reach three strategic goals: the Paris Agreement’s well below 2°C climate goal, universal energy access, and substantially reducing air pollution. The IEA assesses the status of 46 critical energy technologies and sectors and offers some general advice on how to get “on track” with this SDS approach.

Presently there is a rising concern the Covid-19 has knocked us off a path.

In the short term, the dramatic economic downturn has given rise to seeing air pollution levels drop during the “lockdown” months, but as was seen after the 2008 /9 financial crisis when the economy came “roaring back,” so did the carbon emissions.

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Solutions for Energy do need to be end-to-end and highly innovative

It is not just replacing energy sources; it is all about solution renewal end-to-end and that needs innovation
Within the energy transition, we must not lose sight of the final consumer. The final consumer of energy is going to be the ultimate arbitrator.

As we focus on the broader aspects of “energy transition” by re-engineering much of the existing infrastructure to create smart grids, provide storage, solar for individual homes, and the ability to introduce e-mobility across the transport sector we must keep the consumer always in mind. Is the alternative, those new solution more attractive?

As we seek to make a change in any energy supply or solution, we need to continually ask those basic questions innovators should always do. Has what we are offering greater utility and flexibility? Is the alternative more connected, more informative, and helpful? Does it provide better value than the existing solution? Simply, what is in it for me?

These are the connecting points to the end-user. They “feel” the value of the energy transition in benefit; in energy security, increased choices, and greater involvement in handling their own energy costs and local energy design choices, they see the “effect of change.”

The nature of the energy landscape will require the transformation of businesses, the push to find and develop new market dynamics and embrace government policy and regulations in an orderly and planned way. Still, above all, it needs to offer value, appeals, and that “compelling” reason to make a change.

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Why I like the idea of Energy Fitness Landscapes

I have been building out the value in my proposal of having a Fitness Landscape framework within the Energy Transition and why it makes sense.

Here in this post, I want to expand on my thinking around navigating a complex landscape that the Energy Transition demands.

I am looking at the Energy Transition from an evolving technology innovation perspective. In other words, what “forces” can be identified or promoted that can transform the existing energy system through the pursuit of the new invention, innovation, or technological advancement. Specifically, ones that will be needed over such an extended time and complexity of change that this Energy Transition will take, upwards of twenty to thirty years to give it an unstoppable momentum.

For this, we need to continually identify resources and capital by addressing the competencies, capabilities, and capacities to generate and accelerate change and consistently map these back to the realities of the landscape of change we are trying to traverse.

When you look through the lens of innovating at the Energy Transition, you are often questioning the fitness, or the reality to achieve something. Continue reading