On Thursday a group of executives from Microsoft, GE Power, Envision, Renault and other international companies took part in a digital roundtable in Copenhagen during Nordic Clean Energy Week. Hosted by the Danish TSO, Energinet, the roundtable discussed how new technologies and digitalisation will change the energy sector – and how the traditional energy sector and companies from other sectors can create new partnerships.
New winds are blowing in the energy sector. Not just because the number of wind turbines is rising sharply and soon will supply 50 per cent of Denmark’s electricity consumption. New winds are also blowing into the industry from outside, from businesses, entrepreneurs, smart apps, as well as new products that can connect a solar panel on the roof of a house to the electric oven in the kitchen, the family calendar, the iPad and prices on the electricity market in brand-new ways.
These new developments don’t just help improve our everyday lives. They are also a great opportunity for the energy sector and companies and entrepreneurs outside the sector’s traditional value chain to cooperate much more closely on achieving a smart and efficient green transition.
-We’ve already made great progress with the green transition in Denmark. By 2020, half of our electricity will come from wind turbines. We’re using solar cells and biofuels, and the energy markets are linked across borders, enabling us to buy hydroelectric power from the Nordic region and solar power from Central Europe. But the next 50 per cent, and the road to a society that does not use any fossil fuels, requires new tools and brand-new partnerships, says Thomas Egebo, President and CEO of Energinet.
-The first part of the green transition in which, broadly speaking, renewable energy was brought into the traditional energy sector, is the easiest. The last part is harder. Even if a country sets up a lot of wind turbines, this won’t in itself lead to roads with only green vehicles or more electricity being integrated into the heating sector. We in the energy sector also need to develop a better understanding of the new businesses and opportunities in the market. And the businesses for their part need to be familiar with the energy sector and the rules and regulations we have to comply with. We need to have a better understanding of each other’s value chains and how we can create value for each other, and this requires new partnerships, Egebo continues.
One of the speakers at the Digital Roundtable was Lei Zhang, CEO of Envision, China’s second-largest wind turbine company. He predicts in near future a price in renewables on 1 US cent per kWh. This calls for new business models.
Steven Martin, CVP Chief Digital Officer at the American company GE Power said:
-Predicting the future actually isn’t that hard – the difficult part is predicting when it is going to happened because we all know that being too early is being wrong. And having the will and courage to do something about those changes is also hard”, he said and Kristian Ruby, Secretary General of Eurelectric talked about a future with digitalization, decentralization and decarbonization.
“The only way we can deal with this is to work together and in a different way – with costumers, with regulators, with legislators and across industries in new ways to make this happened.”
The Roundtable also included contributions and comments from:
- Jean-Philippe Hermine, VP of Strategic Environmental Planning at Renault
- Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft
- Taavi Veskimägi, CEO of the Estonian TSO Elering
- Mark van Stiphout, Deputy Head of Unit at EU’s DG Energy, and
- Laurent Schmitt, Secretary General of ENTSO-E
The role of data
Data is crucial for the development of tomorrow’s solutions. Thomas Egebo points out that Energinet can help companies and entrepreneurs, for instance by releasing information about production data and the state of the network. At the same time, Energinet and other TSOs are working on making it safe and easy for individual consumers to make their consumption data available. The aim is to become a catalyst that helps both new and current players in the market to create the products of the future.
-Data is something that everyone can tap into, as well as a crucial element of the new business models, in which consumers can make a real difference in contributing to the integration of renewable energy. Therefore, we must ensure they have simple and secure access to our energy data. And we can do this partly through dialogue and partnerships that allow us to support the new business models, says Thomas Egebo.
Many of the solutions of the future are still unknown to us. But one of the areas where progress is already being made is road traffic. With partnerships and greater understanding, the car industry can get more electric cars on the roads and, conversely, Energinet and the electricity system can ensure that increased electricity consumption in the transport sector interacts beneficially with the electricity market, the transmission grid and security of supply. We can ensure, for example, that the cars can easily be charged when the wind is blowing, that car owners can make money by selling electricity from the electric car’s battery when it is not being used, and that the electricity system has to buy upward regulation.
According to Thomas Egebo, it is not enough just to continue the green transition by integrating more wind energy, solar power, biogas, and so on. Nor is it enough just to bring more electricity into the transport and heating sectors or to expand with more links across borders. We will also need new technologies and digitalisation.
-This will help us in the energy sector as well as the companies that invent and supply the digital solutions of the future. And in the end, it will help us all to make the green transition smart and effective, says Thomas Egebo.
– Photo credit: Energinet, photographer Ricky John Molloy