The rising natural disasters across the world goes on to highlight the importance of taking action when it comes to climate change so as to achieve the 1.5-degree target that has been set in the Paris Agreement. To get hold of net-zero emissions by 2050, it is indeed important to engage in in-depth planning, utilize cutting-edge technology, and also foster universal commitment. While there is a noticeable movement in terms of replacing fossil fuels with more clean alternatives, a significant challenge still exists.
The electrification of everything concept happens to be of utmost importance, but due to the present interdependencies, which look complex, it is indeed crucial that one prioritizes and also addresses this shift in the right way. As per the recent Infrastructure Transition Monitor, it has been brought to notice that just 30% of organizations have made prominent advancements in terms of crucial decarbonization areas like electrification of their core functioning.
Demand and electrification
The global energy grids, which have gone on to be established over the course of a century, are facing issues when it comes to keeping up with the elevating energy needs that result from the growing trend of electrification. Broadening the grid network requires an amount of time and investment that looks substantial. But a viable solution so as to achieve faster electrification as well as decentralization lies in the digitalization of the present infrastructure.
The International Energy Agency- IEA goes on to predict that the role of electricity in terms of being a global energy consumption will keep expanding. As per the current policies, its share is anticipated to surge from 20% to 28% by 2050. If all national commitments get honoured, this share is most likely to increase to 39% by 2050. In a net zero emissions scenario that syncs with the Paris Agreement, the milestone of 52%, which is very impressive, would be achieved by 2050. It is worthy to note that renewable energy sources, especially photovoltaic- PV as well as wind power, make up almost 75–80% of newly installed energy systems. The use of contemporary, adaptable, and self-adapting grids with smart grid solutions can help integrate these sources, which is crucial.
The electrification of transport, industry, and buildings plays a crucial role in endeavors to lessen carbon emissions. As industry and transportation sectors keep their heads high, there is quite a prominent increase in electricity consumption. But the development of technologies such as heat pumps and solar power has made the building electrification process more efficient. It is well to be noted that the electrification of critical infrastructure like harbors and data centers is completely dependent upon the use of on-site renewable energy sources as well as a reliable grid system.
So as to meet the net zero decarbonization objectives by 2050, it is crucial to reach important milestones by 2030, which include a 72% share of low-emission power sources as well as tripling investments in the clean technology arena. The IEA goes on to place a significant emphasis on the crucial goal of attaining a carbon-neutral electricity sector across developed countries by 2035. The projection says that renewable energy sources, particularly solar PV and wind power, are expected to go beyond fossil fuels by 2030. This trend will continue until 2050, with solar PV and wind power leading the way in terms of worldwide capacity additions.
Addressing the electrification of buildings
Buildings happen to be responsible for 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year, which is quite a major proportion, and a quarter of these emissions happen to come from the construction processes. It is therefore crucial to prioritize the rapid decarbonization of existing buildings within the built environment, considering that two-thirds of such buildings will still be there by 2040. The future of these buildings is a mix of electrification and digital solutions. This includes executing energy-efficient upgrades, shifting to electric HVAC systems, and also prioritizing the use of renewable energy sources. Building automation solutions can go on to effectively complement these shifts by increasing resource utilization.
The IEA says that the building sector has in it to reduce its emissions by 50%, to say the least, by 2030 by way of executing electrification and also energy efficiency strategies, even with the anticipated rise in building sizes along with appliance usage. Although European as well as American legislative efforts have made progress in promoting energy performance upgrades, there remains quite a gap between the envisioned goals and the actual implementation of practice. To achieve a comprehensive transformation, it is important to democratize access when it comes to smart building technologies. This will make sure that building owners adapt to changing efficiency standards and at the same time also considering the comfort and safety expectations when it comes to occupants, all while maintaining operational viability. Data from energy efficiency projects that make use of digital building platforms consistently indicates that savings of 20-50% or even more can be achieved, depending on aspects such as the type of building as well as energy tariffs.
Electromobility and transportation
EVs are most likely to become quite a dominant choice when it comes to transportation because of their cost-effectiveness and also low emissions. As per the IEA, it is indeed anticipated that electric cars could comprise as much as 60% of new car sales by the decade-end.
But there are certain challenges that crop up in other sectors of mobility. Aviation’s shift towards battery power happens to be in its early stages, which is why e-fuels are taken into account as a temporary solution. Maritime transport, due to its diverse requirements, seeks to incorporate a mix of electrification, green hydrogen, as well as methanol. Despite the promising potential of EVs, it is important to note that fossil fuels will keep dominating the transport sector, thereby accounting for almost 90% of fuel sources.
Electrification of industry and infrastructure
Decarbonization within the industrial sector happens to be a complex endeavor that requires a complete strategy that addresses various aspects like industrial processes, materials, transportation, supply chains, as well as infrastructure. While industrial sites can gain certain advantages from on-site PV energy generation, it is crucial to note that this alone may not be enough. Grid backup continues to be an essential aspect so as to meet the energy needs of these sites. To address high-intensity industries, it may be essential to initially shift from coal to natural gas, but in the long run, sustainable choices such as biomethane and hydrogen will go on to become dominant, in spite of their current higher costs.
It is worth noting that implementing an efficient carbon tax can play a major role in encouraging the adoption of greener technologies. This element is especially important as the demand for carbon-intensive materials like steel and cement rises. To promote low-emission alternatives and prioritize recycling, it is essential to broaden these efforts. By 2030, the sector indeed has the potential to reduce its emissions by almost 25% vis-à-vis the levels in 2021, but it is also important to note that simply meeting the current goals may not be enough. To reach the 1.5-degree objective, one must strive for yearly emission reductions of 10%, which can be achieved by prioritizing electrification and, at the same time, incorporating green fuels as well as carbon capture technologies as supplementary measures.
Preparing the grid for electrification
The decarbonization of sectors like buildings, transport, and industry poses a significant challenge to the current grid as they were not originally designed to handle the quick increase in capacities and an easy integration when it comes to renewable energy sources.
Research states that digitalization has the potential to save the power industry almost USD 80 billion annually, which accounts for 5% of the overall power generation cost, as it offers several advantages like increased utilization of networks, less operating and maintenance expenses, minimized unexpected outages and also downtime, enhanced efficiency of power plants and networks, and increased longevity of assets.
The Importance of electrification
The increasing effects of the climate crisis go on to highlight the urgent and critical need for prompt, significant action. As the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees becomes steeper to achieve, the potential consequences of the lack of action pose a significant risk.
The stakes are indeed high, and achieving full decarbonization is a steep objective that cannot be accomplished unless a strong electrification strategy is implemented.