Innovation is vital to the energy system’s integration and operation design, and we need to further recognise 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 urbanisation 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 commercialisation 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 that we need to achieve the energy transition.
Innovation has risks always associated with it, but that imperative to push the boundaries needs to be constantly in our minds; global warming, pollution, and resource finality are our “burning platform.”
We need to ramp up our need for solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, redesign energy generation, transmission, and distribution to bring a balance back into our environments.
Pushing our present understanding, looking beyond the knowns
- Today the solutions are centred on decarbonisation, applying digitalisation, and switching to an energy system that is more decentralised 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 organisation 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 minimise the shutdowns and power cuts. 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 digitalise 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:
- To accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies throughout the system.
- There is a real need to find innovative solutions that focus on the end-user sectors of transport, industry, and buildings.
- The technological and digital innovative solution needs to focus on the overall system design and the operation needs.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lastly, innovation needs to achieve an affordable decarbonised 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 is an “open for business” sign.
I set out to offer the external perspective to those busy inside organisations 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.