The significant shifts we are undergoing in the energy transitions today are allowing real innovation opportunities when you survey the innovation landscape. The challenge is spotting and seizing these opportunities.
There is a clear realization that there is significant complexity in all the energy transitions going on. Still, it is the researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs that can see the possibilities and ‘energize’ the innovative solutions are the ones that hold the future in their hands.
If innovation is given its appropriate place within the energy transition, the pace of innovation and energy transition will scale up and accelerate to meet the needs of a world rapidly wanting to decarbonize. The world is demanding a change in our energy supplies and rapid decarbonization.
It will be the organizations that have innovation central to their thinking and access to the financial and resource capital that will be in a very healthy position to capitalize on this demand for making change.
Innovation will be central to enabling technologies that advance the energy transition. Changes will come in offering new business models, significant differences in market design, and system integration options.
Innovation will continue to focus-in on flexible solutions to overcome solar and wind variability. Answers will provide increased system flexibility and allowing for reduced total system cost and continue to replace energy systems reliant on fossil-fuel as we push towards a lowering of our carbon emissions.
I have focused through some previous posts on the “families” of innovation that are needed in the energy transition.
For example, discussing the recent IEA release of a significant innovation-related report,” A sharp acceleration towards Clean Energy is required” was one of these.
Also, another look at where innovation can contribute was “Within the Energy Transition, the hunt is on for strong spillover potentials.”
Both posts explore the role that innovation is having in the energy transition in greater detail.
Innovation is playing a significant role in facilitating the integration of the emerging new renewable energy system providing new opportunities to explore and evolve:
1). New business models, where new services, enhancing the system’s flexibility and providing the incentivizing of further integration models, can play there part.
2). Then we have the consequence of any innovation change, in energy source and deliver, and that is in market design innovation. Regulations, policies, new incentives for value-adding services are building new business opportunities that give a new breed of energy players, including a new set of infrastructure investors, opportunities to support and gain from.
3). Thirdly, the innovating models for operating in the electricity system can give a different way to share the value out of managing this VRE generation. It opens up the market to a whole new range of energy providers, including, you as a net contributor back to the energy grid with the right approach to usage, storage, and generation from your renewable technology stack of solutions.
4) As we move progressively away from fossil fuels to renewables, the need for a clean alternative, where carbon emissions are zero, is the essential innovative solution to deliver. The replacement “primary” source of energy seen today to do this job is hydrogen. Hydrogen is viable; it now needs to become scalable to offer solutions to decarbonize industry. It’s potential is now necessary to be realized as urgently as possible.
Innovation solutions are both supply-sided and demand-sided
Innovation is working on both the supply-side in finding the new flexible solution but equally on the demand-side as well. A couple of pivotal examples are in designing the grid in innovative ways and building storage into the entire energy system.
The Grid is offering a growing range of flexible solutions to reduce the dependencies on large centralized grids to achieve the optimum delivery closer to final demand. A grid that is matching closer power generation and the variabilities in demands, through new grid approaches in operations and designs, ones that can provide solutions that become more flexible than the existing ones we have today.
Energy storage offers flexibility by taking out the concerns of variability where systems are totally dependant on current wind and solar. Storage is advancing through battery and fuel cell technology, and provides an entirely different range of options for demand-side management, optimizing energy distribution closer to the markets.
Innovation-driven solutions are seeking to achieve cost-effective global transformations that contribute to the results in low-carbon, sustainable, reliable, and inclusive energy systems with the emphasis on emerging flexible solutions that change today’s energy equation.
Innovation has the power to unlock the Energy Transition.
The mix of many technology innovative solutions needs not just further discovery, it needs translating into scalable solutions. The IEA mentions the “stark disconnect” of the “walk and the talk” around net-zero that this needs significant resolution. This disconnect can be resolved by giving innovation to have the central focal role in our need to deliver clean energy technologies.