Building an energy system for a net zero future
As the latest IPCC report states, many of the impacts of global warming are now alarmingly “irreversible”, and there is simply no time to waste in moving towards cleaner, greener energy sources.
Adopting a diverse energy mix is needed to power the global economies of the future and help mitigate the impact of climate change and pollution.
Together with other industry leaders, our founder Simon Daniel recently contributed to a report created by Clean Energy Pipeline, the leading independent news source for the renewables finance industry. He shared his thoughts on the solutions to mitigate against a climate catastrophe and on what the future of energy looks like in the race to net zero.
What should we do to give ourselves the best possible chance of meeting global targets?
If the UK is to achieve its net zero goals by 2050, we must end our reliance on fossil fuels. To make this a reality, the UK needs to build a strong energy system powered solely by renewables that can withstand the uptick in electricity use in the coming decades.
To achieve this, it is clear that traditional energy systems are no longer fit for purpose, meaning new regulatory design, funding and subsidies are needed to create a greener grid.
How do we add more renewable energy to the grid without jeopardising its stability?
Adding renewable energy to the grid does come with a greater risk of unpredictability. Flexibility is essential to counteract the intermittent nature of renewables and is the key to a greener grid.
Previously, when energy demand was low and there was a surplus of renewable energy on the grid, the only way to prevent the grid from being overloaded was to control the supply side by turning off wind turbines. As we transition from passive Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) to proactive Distribution System Operators (DSOs), more flexibility is needed on the demand side.
Energy storage will be vital in providing flexibility to stabilise the grid. By leveraging AI and machine learning, households with intelligent batteries can now actively participate in the broader electricity system, creating virtual power plants (VPPs) and helping improve the resilience and reliability of renewable energy on the grid through more local energy management.
In terms of financial solutions, what can be done to solve the climate emergency?
Reimagining the UK economic and pension policy will be crucial in funding the transition to net zero. The current pension liability in the UK alone exceeds £8 trillion, yet 75% of this is unfunded. £1 trillion of this total is spent paying for energy and transport during retirement.
By enabling energy and mobility in retirement to be delivered in the form of net zero services, the UK can showcase a financial solution to the problem of finding the vast sums of capital needed to fund new infrastructure and new green jobs to solve the climate emergency.