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Digitalisation and decarbonisation of the electricity grid, the key to change for the future of the planet
We are at a time of profound social, economic, environmental and, therefore, energy-related changes. An unstoppable wave of transformation, which focuses on the need to reform our society in order to create a sustainable one in the long term. A goal as complex as it is exciting: to decarbonise our economy to ensure a world without carbon emissions; in other words, to leave a better world for the next generation.
This objective, ratified by several of the world’s nations at the Glasglow summit in 2021 and with the consensus of two of the world’s major economic powers, the European Union, which has set itself a zero emissions horizon for 2050, and the United States, whose climate policy has taken a turn in the right direction, necessarily implies the modernisation of the electrical grids. These grids need to adapt to the growing presence of the three key pillars of a decarbonised economy: renewable electricity generation, electrification of mobility and energy efficiency.
A few years ago it was unthinkable that the cheapest energy would be produced by renewable generation plants. Both large plants with the capacity equivalent to a nuclear power plant and small domestic-scale plants installed on each of our rooftops. Today, what seemed impossible just a few years ago is already a reality. Similarly, it seems impossible today that renewable generation can support the basic consumption of our economy due to the unmanageable character of natural phenomena such as wind, sun or rain. However, in a few years, the increasing connection of large energy storage capacity in the form of reversible hydro jumps, large battery storage plants or small storage equipment in each of our homes will also solve this problem.
Who would have thought 5 years ago that electric car sales would eclipse diesel vehicle sales in Europe as they have in recent months? This is great news as it announces a reduction in the direct impact of C02 emissions and other harmful gases in urban environments.
The third major player in our equation is as or more important than the previous two: energy efficiency. The cheapest and greenest kilowatt-hour is the one that is not consumed. To focus solely on our ability to generate more energy, however green it may be, without thinking about the need to reduce losses and our consumption would be highly irresponsible. And this is where new business models are emerging, bringing to every energy consumption point the most modern technologies to reduce this consumption without the user having to advance a single euro or the new equipment for electricity distribution networks that have greatly increased their efficiency.
But the three levers mentioned so far: renewable generation with storage, electric mobility and energy efficiency, generate in turn a major challenge. The electricity grid will have to accommodate this unmanageable generating capacity and these storage plants. It will also have to be able to guarantee the recharging of electric vehicles through a multitude of connection points (in many cases at high-power points to offer increasingly faster charges), plus be able to connect with those energy consumers that have complex energy efficiency systems to collaborate with them in terms of when, how and what they consume.
Now that we are aware of the enormous challenge ahead of us, it is time to ask ourselves what is the formula to achieve it. Perhaps the first thing is to be aware that this challenge requires total alignment between the public sector, which will provide a long-term vision and a flexible regulatory framework adapted to the situation, and the private sector, which will provide the knowledge and technology necessary to tackle it. The interests of both worlds must converge on the same path. This is where we must highlight and support the role of companies and actors who have been walking this path for years.
At Ormazabal, we develop solutions for electricity distribution grids, renewable generation, electric vehicle charging and energy efficiency with our sights set on our environment and with the conviction of doing our bit at a time of decisive change.
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