What will the New Energy World feel like? And is it really possible?
Senior Vice President Global Thought Leadership, Schneider Electric
The New Energy World – powered fully by renewables – what will it feel like? Will it be greener, cooler and more efficient? More importantly, is this really possible?
We all know the world is rapidly approaching a critical turning point. We have all felt the effects of climate change. Many are taking action to reverse this unfortunate man-made catastrophe. And, we have the ability to foster change today.
This shift toward renewable resources is the basis for the most recent report from the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), “Better Energy, Greater Prosperity.” Halving global carbon emissions by 2040 seems within reach, reducing the effects of climate change, while maintaining a promise of reliable energy for everyone.
What is needed to achieve these goals?
Reaching a world powered by renewable energy isn’t as simple as getting approvals, applying a few upgrades to infrastructures, and “flipping switches” on new power sources. Instead, we need to act swiftly, and remain focused on the following efforts, to see our larger goals to fruition.
1. Global reallocation of capital
This transition to renewable energy sources, combined with growing electrification of new economies and various sectors of the economy, leads to a significant rise of investments needed in the industry. Because of this rising need for access to capital, the need for greater efficiency of the capital already engaged in the industry is becoming paramount, a topic on which massive improvements can be made.
2. Addressing the future need for fossil fuels
The ETC agrees certain sources of greenhouse gases will remain part of the energy mix along the way. Since global energy consumption is expected to increase by as much as 35% by 2035 – including in sectors like transportation and aviation, which are difficult to fully electrify – the reliance on fossil fuels will still grow during this period.
Therefore, we can safely predict average levels of greenhouse gases will grow in parallel, continuing their negative effects on climate change. The answer to this is to get ahead of this predicted growth curve, and better facilitate a shift to renewable energy ahead of schedule, as well as decarbonize further current energy systems.
3. Faster transition to combined renewables and energy efficiency
Global investment in renewable generation is expected to far outpace fossil fuel generation by 2030. And solar and wind energy alone represents the fastest growth of any electricity source, which should only grow even further as the cost of renewable energy generators continues to drop year over year.
In parallel, the investment necessary to decarbonize industries and buildings – most notably those that aren’t easily electrified – while maintaining reliable energy production, is a major priority on the agenda. This transition to a low carbon scenario can be accomplished by focusing on the following areas in the coming years:
- Investment. With the need for greater allocation of capital to the energy transition comes the pressing demand for greater efficiency of the capital engaged. Active energy management solutions are a cornerstone of increased efficiency of the overall energy system, and are at the core of our activities and expertise.
- Resiliency and continuity of operations. Renewable energies present significant technical challenges to grid operations. Smart grid solutions, powered by digital technologies, are a key area of focus, and enable greater real-time management and integration of renewables. The development of microgrid solutions (and decentralized renewable energies) is also fundamentally changing the architecture of power distribution, an area in which Schneider Electric is an undisputed leader.
- Adaptation to varying market rules and regulations. Regulatory frameworks across the globe are key to enabling the transformation of utilities and business models. We are active in supporting governments that are shaping their energy policies to embrace the change towards a promising new world of energy – one that is more decarbonized, decentralized, and digitized.
The time to act is now
We share the ETC’s belief that these goals are readily achievable, and that our collective technology and expertise is positioned to drive sweeping global transformation. Yet global leadership must take the necessary steps toward realizing a truly decarbonized world, through a shift in energy business models, and a commitment to smart, prosumer-driven, renewable sources of power.