This essay offers essential information to understand the energy system of the future and provides the key highlights from the COP28 summit on climate change.
The future energy landscape is shaped by the need to address climate change, the shortage of raw materials, reducing the use of fossil fuels and increased global pressure on electricity prices. In order to go green, it requires a strategic vision and a shift in mentality, translated into a call to action to adopt the circular economy principles.
Harnessing the power of the sun brings many opportunities for future businesses and the development of new products. Solar panels can be installed not only on the rooftops, but also on the balconies and could play a significant role in accelerating the renewable transition of a household, being integrated with smart home systems. Balcony solar systems in European countries have a capacity between 1 and 2 kilowatts of peak power, which is enough to meet part of the household’s electricity needs. Photovoltaic panels can be installed on balcony railings, on facades or as stand-alone structures in the gardens of houses. The main challenge is with their installation, city building codes, or with grid connections.
Photovoltaic panels can be used also with vehicle power integration systems (VPIS), connecting the solar panels to the vehicles battery and electrical system. This VPIS device converts the current, voltage and frequency of the solar power to a form that the car can use, while protecting it from overheating. Future power systems require compatibility, adjustment of power generation and consumption, to address real-time supply demand mismatches.
Accelerating the transition to renewable sources, such as solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy will become crucial, as the demand for energy will increase in the years to come. Here is where Artificial Intelligence comes in to play with cloud-based technologies and analytics, to optimize energy production, distribution and consumption. Machine learning algorithms and AI can make forecasts and improve energy efficiency, grid management and estimate demand. Cloud based technologies have the ability to unlock substantial value and its contribution is estimated to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Achieving net-zero emissions is one of the targets that has been set at the U.N. climate summit 2023 COP28, that took place in Dubai, where more than 200 countries gathered on the 30th of November until the 12th of December 2023. The COP28 Action Agenda focused on the future of fossil fuels and on topics that address the global warming.
The key takeaways from the COP28 summit are:
Countries have pledged for the final agreement that concludes the “transition away from all fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner”, that means the reduction of oil, gas, and coal use on a global scale.
Countries agreed to accelerate their transition away from fossil fuels this decade to enable the world to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Financial aspects have a significant role in delivering this goal. Therefore, “a new global climate finance architecture in support of the post-2025 climate goal to be delivered at COP29”.
According to the agreement “by 2030, countries should aim to triple their renewable energy capacity and double the rate that they improve energy efficiency”. More than 20 nations also engaged to accelerate their development of nuclear power by tripling their capacity by 2050”.
Policymakers negotiated a loss and damage fund to support vulnerable nations tackle climate-related challenges. “Countries have pledged $700 million to the fund, which represents to just 0.2% of the economic losses that vulnerable countries are estimated to be facing per year”.
After the summit, policymakers, analysts, and activists have discussed if the deal brings benefits for the global climate action. Some of the weaknesses of the summit point to the fact that the agreement itself is not legally binding, as there is no enforcement mechanism in place to push nations to meet the agreement’s goals and no sanctions for those that do not.
Participating countries should “stop adding carbon monoxide into the atmosphere by 2050; triple the amount of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, by 2030”. Based on the agreement’s recommendations, “each country should submit a formal proposal over the next two years detailing how it plans to curb greenhouse gases by 2035”.
According to the report from the European Energy Agency, to ensure the reliability of the power supply and to reduce the costs of electricity transmission, some regions in Europe have been proposing homeowners or businesses to become producer-consumers – prosumers. This means actually to generate electricity with solar panels, consuming a share of it and feeding the surplus power to the grid. This approach brings many benefits for the homeowners and businesses.
The conclusion is that there are many challenges, but also opportunities for the future energy landscape. Some of the challenges of transitioning to sustainable energy systems consist in reliability, production capacity and transmission of electricity where it’s needed. Sustainable energy systems require a synergy with technological advances in battery, storage, charging infrastructure, power grid, alignment with policies and the compatibility with the environment. Smart technologies will help consumers optimize their energy use, reducing waste and costs, resulting in positive effects for the society.