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

Focusing on Innovation for our Energy Transition we are all undertaking

When you are undertaking such a transformation in any system like energy, innovation becomes vital to inject new forces of dynamism and creative thinking to tackling such a change.

The energy transition that the world is undertaking is one of the most critical areas where innovation needs to be at its very best, that top of the game to make the level of change necessary.

The existing solutions found in wind and solar solutions jockeying to replace oil, gas, and coal, in our present electricity distribution, as well as our current customer solutions for managing our energy, will only take you so far in our need to change our energy systems.

If we are to meet the mandated Paris Agreement of 2015, where member states agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees C versus pre-industrial levels by 2050, we have to look at every climate change mitigation we can find. We have to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 to 95 percent of the 1990 level by 20150. Today the solutions are centered on decarbonization, applying digitalization, and switching to an energy system that is more decentralized than at present and it is finding imaginative, innovating solutions that become essential to achieve this climate change through the energy transition we are undertaking. 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

So are we doing enough in the Energy and Urbanization Transition?

In a recent SIEW Opening Keynote Address,  was an opening view by Cedrik Neike, a member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO Smart Infrastructure on “Accelerating Energy Transformation”, He asked the question to the audience: Are we doing enough?

Sadly he only had ten minutes. It would have been good to have this opening challenge expanded out so we can all recognize many of the areas that we are not doing enough in our need for the necessary energy transition.

Mr. Neike spoke of the battle we have in the energy and urbanization transformation, the need to accelerate the transition.

So his question sparked my thinking here that in my view, there are four parts to any Urban Transition. 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

Continuing the Energy Transition Journey

This week I have had one of those most intense periods of researching and then absorbing the material around different energy issues.

Everywhere you turn, you stumble across reports on one aspect or another of the energy transformation we are undertaking.

I am looking at this energy transition through the eyes of the innovator, as it offers so much in new solutions and designs that any innovator would love to be part of.

Energy is tackling one of the world’s toughest tasks, turning our existing energy system, reliant on fossil fuels into one based on renewables, is an enormously complex set of challenges in its goal of decarbonizing it.

There is such an innovation landscape of solutions that are contributing to the world achieving a more renewable-powered future. Technology innovation, suggested new business models, outline proposals for changing policies, processes, and market design all are being “sketched out.” It is overwhelming, but innovative solutions need to be continuously refreshed to reflect this consistent inflow of understanding, relating to the energy transition that is being undertaken. It is evident innovation must be way broader than just technological RD&D.

During this past week, I have been working through specific aspects of the energy transition model. 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