A new world of energy is emerging. One that is cleaner, more efficient and more competitive.
Concurrently, the global demand for energy is expected to rise by 58 percent by 2040. The stakes are high – costs of raw resources and energy is increasing, as are demands for productivity and safety. Energy providers are developing innovative solutions to better respond to increasing market demands and legislative requirements around the world. The Paris Climate Accord in particular has been a driving force in shaping new thinking towards energy.
In Asia Pacific, there is a growing demand for renewable energy to keep up with the fast growth of the region’s energy consumption rate. The region is the global leader in renewable energy investment as well as installed capacity and consumption. According to study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the renewable energy market attracted US$241.6 billion of new investments globally. Out of the total amount of new investments, US$114.8 billion (47 percent) were in Asia Pacific countries.
Organisations from across industries are more aware of their energy needs and consumptions, and are championing new energy opportunities. These include renewable energy, decentralised energy sources as well as smart management systems to increase usage efficiency while reducing environmental impact of their business operations.
Renewables Not Just An Alternative
In the past, renewables were referred to as an alternative source of energy, but today it has become the foundation of the new energy landscape. By the early-2030s, renewables will form the largest source of energy according to a report by World Energy Outlook. A report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) titled ‘Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics’, states that doubling the share of renewables will bring a range of benefits by 2030. This includes an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of up to 1.1 percent, improvement of global welfare by 3.7 percent and 24 million people working in the renewable energy sector on a global scale.
Compared to countries across the world, Asia Pacific reaped the greatest benefits from renewable energy, as seen in China, one of the most energy-intense of all global regions. China saw a significant drop in the energy intensity of its industrial sector, spurred by improvements in energy efficiency.
Globally there is a shift towards wind and solar energy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Both wind and solar energy offer homes and businesses savings on their utility bills. Wind power presents an opportunity to generate clean and efficient energy. Through end-to-end wind power solutions, companies can save time and money by deploying efficient project management and ensuring reliability. For example, connecting a wind farm to a power grid allows companies to benefit up to 25 percent decrease in capital and operational expenses, extended equipment lifespan as well as reduced overloading on the electrical system.
Solar power, on the other hand, is set to transform the future of energy generation. The main advantage of solar power is that it can be deployed almost anywhere that can catch the sunlight. Photovoltaic panels are being installed at a larger scale than wind turbines as there are lower costs to implement the technology.
Companies are increasingly adopting clean energy sources as part of their corporate energy management programs to address energy shortage and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. For example, we have signed on to RE100, a commitment towards sourcing 100 percent of our electricity consumption from renewable energy together with more than 100 companies around the world.
New Demand For Decentralised Energy
Decentralised energy sources such as microgrids are gaining traction among energy companies. The idea behind microgrids is that it is disconnected from the main power grid and can operate autonomously. This improves energy reliability, resilience and security for businesses and communities. Microgrids bring together a combination of clean technologies such as distributed generation, batteries and renewable resources to help organisations operate self-sufficiently.
An example is the Sustainable Powering of Off-Grid Regions’ (SPORE) microgrid on Semakau Island in Singapore, a collaboration between Schneider Electric and ENGIE. The microgrid houses Singapore’s tallest wind turbine, PV (photovoltaic) panels, battery storage and a hydrogen system for storage and fuelling a hydrogen car. The hybrid energy generated from the site is primarily used to deliver clean and safe energy to remote locations across the region.
Smart Energy Management System
The Internet of Things (IoT) and the digitisation of devices are increasingly playing an important role in the energy sector – enabling companies to leverage data, automation, and analytics to better manage energy and increase productivity and efficiency.
By breaking silos, digitisation gives us the opportunity to optimise the value chain with increased efficiency and greater control. Smart energy solutions including remote monitoring tools, smart grid analytics and meter management help homes and businesses understand their energy consumption, and in turn identify how to reduce it.
For instance, connecting a building’s power grid with IoT enabled solutions – circuit breakers, edge control software and energy apps – allows the overall energy consumption within the building to be monitored and the health of energy equipment to be tracked. This enables building managers to make proper assessments for predictive maintenance and more efficient use of energy.
The Future Of Energy
The future of energy is one that is more digitised, decarbonised and decentralised. Organisations are already starting to embrace new and clean technologies. When it is combined with automation and software and applied across industries including buildings, IT, and infrastructure – we can enable a more sustainable energy future. The world of energy is changing and the value chain – from generation to transmission, distribution, consumption, and demand of energy – will further transform with new innovations in the sector.
By Tommy Leong, Zone President of East Asia & Japan, Schneider Electric.
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