Energy transition towards a zero-emission future inevitably passes through a series of different strategies.
February 14, 2020
The energy transition towards a zero-emission future is underway. Which are the dominant strategies and those of the near future to achieve the goal of decarbonisation?
The global energy market is undergoing a strong change and the trends all point towards a future with low or, preferably, zero carbon emissions.
If on the one hand companies, sensitized or pushed by new environmental policies, are facing important investments in the search for new technologies capable of reducing CO2 emissions, on the other hand what emerges is the impossibility of finding a single solution that permanently solve the problem. However, the goal of decarbonisation expected for the second half of the century requires urgent and contingent action on a global level.
For this reason, energy transition towards a zero-emission future inevitably passes through a series of different strategies implemented in parallel:
Among the decentralization projects affecting the energy market, particular attention should be given to low environmental impact microgrids, systems that integrate renewable source generation plants and electrical storage systems (such as batteries), able to operate on their own or in connection with the national electricity system. Microgrids can provide cheap, reliable and relatively clean energy, and can be particularly important for structures which work 24 hours a day, such as hospitals, airports, production plants…
According to Irena (International Renewable Energy Agency), by 2050 renewable energies will cover about 65% of the energy demand, but already in the next 5 years an increase in installed power is expected of about 50%.
A use of renewable energy that is spreading more and more, also thanks to the continuous drop in the costs of the technologies involved, especially those relating to batteries for energy storage.
New energy carriers
One of the technologies with great potential, marking this energy transition, is that relating to hydrogen, used as an energy carrier.
Widely used in the industrial sector as a raw material, but also with other applications (such as transport), hydrogen brings with it two problems, which cannot be underestimated: first of all the production mostly comes from fossil sources, and is the cause of CO2 emissions; secondly, the electrolysis to which the water is subjected to obtain H2 is an extremely energy-consuming process.
Development of new technologies
The zero emissions target has stimulated companies in the industrial sector to develop new technologies. Among these, CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) can play a leading role in reducing emissions, especially for those particularly polluting industrial sectors, such as cement, chemicals, and the processing of iron and steel.
Reduction of costs, reduction of emissions, energy security, increase of productivity and improvement of commercial scales are just some of the advantages that energy efficiency brings with you (if you missed it, read our article “Energy Efficiency advantages“). The energy requalification of existing buildings (responsible for 36% of carbon dioxide emissions in the EU), infrastructures and industries is one of the fundamental actions to be taken to achieve decarbonisation.
Home automation and Industry 4.0 are creating new models of energy management and consumption, which focus on the consumer and on an efficient use of energy: digital transformation, by interconnecting buildings, equipment and transport, is proving to be a valid partner in reducing energy consumption.
Putting these strategies into action in all areas where energy is fundamental (transport, industry, civil sector) is no longer just a “good act”. It is a necessity, which however must not make us lose sight of the fact that energy, of the present and of the future, must be sustainable.