Electricity can power net zero
Electricity can power net zero
A transformation of industry’s use of electricity, driven by a “game-changing” combination of digital innovation, software advances and interconnectivity, can power the nation towards net zero, say climate experts and industry leaders. - Australian Financial Review
The transition to decarbonised electricity is fundamental to achieving an effective transition to net zero emissions globally.Rob Kelly, industry lead for the Climateworks Centre, a non-profit organisation that develops independent solutions to assist the transition to net zero
The growth of digitalisation technology has the potential to transform global energy supply and the industrial sector, if opportunities such as material and energy efficiency technologies continue to be tested, demonstrated and deployed.Rob Kelly, industry lead for the Climateworks Centre. Climateworks Centre
For example, he says, there are measures that can be taken to optimise mine sites and industrial plants, “alongside uptake of best available technologies to drive significant reductions in material and energy use”.
Demand, supply and global investment in digital technology, infrastructure and software has increased by over 20 per cent per year since 2014 - during this period, digitalisation of industrial processes has increased visibility across the supply chain and has already unlocked huge improvements to efficiency and waste management.Rob Kelly, industry lead for the Climateworks Centre. Climateworks Centre
Schneider Electric, a global leader in digital transformation and energy efficiency, dubs this ongoing transformation Electricity 4.0, and says it’s the latest in a series of energy revolutions that have paralleled industrial transformations - culminating in the spread of digital interconnectivity known as Industry 4.0.
The idea is that electricity 1.0 kicked off 250 years ago with the harnessing of water and steam; a century later, 2.0 harvested power for mass production, 3.0 started in the 1950s with the beginning of the silicon revolution and the early development of renewables and 4.0 is now applying digital technology to finally unleash the full power of the electron.
Gareth O’Reilly, president, Pacific zone of Schneider Electric, says Electricity 4.0 is key to addressing the issue of climate challenge.
Electricity is the most efficient energy and enabler of decarbonisation and, combined with digital innovation, it has the potential to eliminate energy waste, enabling industry to be both green and smart. Going green means more electrical and going smart means more digital. Right now, over 80 per cent of global CO2 emissions are due to the production and consumption of energy. The way we use energy today is massively inefficient, 60 per cent of it is lost or wasted. The more digitised an operation is, the more control it has over energy usage and the better it can optimise production while minimising energy consumption and operating costs.says O’Reilly
O’Reilly says that now, as we manage the transition to cleaner energy sources, we should focus on the accelerating renewables, avoiding the most polluting fossil fuels, and deploying digital technology to identify and eliminate waste.
Energy transition needs to go hand-in-hand with digitisation, which allows us to visualise energy: to see how it is being used, where it can be saved, and how it can be deployed more efficiently. This is a quick win for carbon reduction, as the impact is immediate. It’s far easier to save a unit of energy than it is to make one.says O’Reilly
This idea that energy you save is energy you don’t have to buy (or power utilities have to find or produce) has been put into practice by Schneider.
The power leader has deployed digital knowhow to help make deep cuts in power use at Melbourne’s iconic MCG and for fast food leviathan McDonald’s.
At Schneider Electric every day we are helping companies be more efficient and more sustainable with electrical systems and digital solutions, including connected products, edge controls, services software and AI. We have partnered with the MCG, conducting an energy upgrade and instituting real time monitoring and control of all aspects of its power usage, which cut its energy use by a quarter. That’s enough to power 1872 houses a year.says O’Reilly
The company also helped McDonald’s launch its first Australian sustainability flagship restaurant.
At Melbourne’s Melton South, the restaurant has a Schneider Electric integrated system to control all energy use, optimising energy efficiency. Sensors monitor sunlight and occupancy with automated lighting and air-conditioning adjustments to conserve electricity. The system provides updates in real time, any inefficiencies will trigger an alert on a mobile app so they can be rectified immediately.says O’Reilly
The latest moves afoot in Australia are in accord with the findings of a report from the global Energy Transition Commission, which found that the global economy must be fully electrified over the next three decades to reach net zero.
Renewables costs will … be reduced by improvements in operational efficiency (monitoring and maintenance), enabled significantly by digital solutions.Making Clean Electrification Possible: 30 Years to Electrify the Global Economy from the UK-based global think tank
Climateworks’ Kelly - who works with Australian Industry Energy Transitions Initiative (ETI), a body made up of corporate leaders committed to mapping the path to industrial net zero - says most of the solutions are already at our fingertips.
Encouragingly, the Australian Industry ETI analysis has found that many of the technologies needed to transition to net zero emissions in industry are mature and available for deployment now. Additionally, many of these technologies can deliver material and energy efficiency which can improve competitiveness in the short term, lowering energy and other input costs.says Kelly