Electricity companies have already taken positive steps in their role as key contributors to CO2 reduction. Now they should continue to build upon their existing achievements by increasing their sustainability efforts as the 1.5°C scenario cannot be achieved without a greater proportion of cleaner electricity.
That’s because the planet cannot support our skyrocketing energy demand with traditional fossil fuel generation without compromising an already precarious environmental situation. This means improving sustainability and increasing the use of decentralized renewables are critical for the future of electricity companies.
Global demand for electricity is expected to increase by 60% by 2040. The good news is that during that same time period solar and wind’s share of global electricity is expected to triple.
The consequences of this shift in the energy market include a new level of complexity – on both the supply and demand side of the energy business – that will introduce challenges and opportunities. The changes will test the industry as the boundaries between supply and demand become blurred. Importantly, a sustainable, renewable-based future will require support and innovation from all players in the energy business.
On the demand side, complexity comes from interacting with energy markets and making the most of incentives. Customers are no longer just energy consumers but, have now become mindful producers as well. In their new role as prosumers, they want – and need – the power to manage their energy behavior both in consumption and their own production. They want to be able to actively control their energy mix and seek benefits from the new energy equation that include better reliability, availability, sustainability, access to energy, and access to new services.
On the supply side, complexity comes from operations, management, planning, investment, and strategy. Electric companies must leverage technologies to optimize planning and investments and asset and workforce management to better accomplish their mission-critical role.
Although there is complexity, there are also solutions for both sides of the meter using digital technology. These tools are flexible enough to manage present challenges, such as mirroring the grid and data exchange, as well as prepare for the future. While digitization is an essential tool for incorporating sustainability into all areas of the business, it is not the whole solution. To meet their sustainability goals and remain competitive, electricity companies must also:
- Integrate more renewables at all levels of the grid to substitute the fossil fuels
- Commit to using better, more modern equipment, such as innovative SF6-free medium-voltage switchgear, a proven switchgear solution that replaces the greenhouse gas sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) with air and vacuum;
- Focus on increasing efficiency, not only of the network but also in the workforce by reducing their movement through a higher level of data usage, remote control, and shifting fleets to electrical vehicles.
It is electric companies’ responsibility to help meet climate targets and incorporate sustainability into all aspects of the business. The pressure to do so comes from both internal targets and KPIs to external pressure from governments and policy makers who seek to avoid a more than 1.5°C scenario by 2100.
This blog post is part of a series from Innovation Summit Barcelona 2019, a two-day event that brought together more than 3,500 industry professionals, solution experts, and IoT leaders to discuss about global trends, generate bold ideas and foster digital economy. If you want to know more about it, we invite you to read the other posts from this series:
- Re-inventing buildings to be future-proof
- Empowering the Digital Transformation and Tackling the Challenges of the Edge
- Powering and digitizing the economy: The formula for a sustainable future
- Making buildings efficient, engaging, and future-ready
- The Future is Bright. Let’s invent the New Electric World!
- Cybersecurity Defense Requires a Strong Offense