Utilising linkages between sectors to best use renewable energy has a huge potential in the reduction of CO2 emissions. Digitised and energy efficient consumption, electrification and a comprehensive renewable energy system are all variables in the quest for huge CO2 reductions.
In order to reduce Danish CO2 emissions by as much as 22 million tons over the next 25 years, smart energy solutions are needed. Particularly, digital solutions within energy efficiency, electrification in several sectors – such as transport by using Power-to-X – and increasing the share of green energy are the most effective solutions to bring about the CO2 reductions, concludes a new report by the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and the consultancy DareDisrupt.
The demand for smart solutions to streamline energy consumption is growing ever larger. More and more companies are turning away from investing and using fossil fuels and looking towards green sources of energy. One of the examples of companies turning towards green energy is the initiative RE100, where 211 companies, many of them Fortune500 companies such as Sony, Google, IKEA, Unilever and Carlsberg, are committed to a minimum percentage of their energy consumption coming from renewables: 60 per cent by 2030, 90 per cent by 2040 and 100 per cent by 2050.
In the wake of this trend and the need for an efficient green energy transition, the report by DI outlines three ways to effectively reduce CO2 emissions:
1. Energy efficiency through digitalisation
Digitalisation is becoming an ever-bigger part of our everyday lives. Moreover, it is becoming an ever more integrated part of the energy system – helping to predict when the winds are blowing and the sun is shining to maximise the output from renewable energy sources. Denmark is already setting up experiments on digitalisation – for instance, where consumers are paid to use energy during specific hours.
This smart use of data is pivotal to ensure the best possible energy efficiency. Digital solutions can streamline and reduce energy consumption across sectors and make the green transition cheaper.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that globally, 44 per cent of the Paris Declaration climate commitment can be met through energy efficiency. It will cause global demand for energy efficient solutions to increase by as much as EUR 6.69 billion towards 2040.
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2. Electrification could revolutionise the transport sector
Electrification of society is the basis for the green transition. However, as of today, electrification is at 22 per cent from an end-consumer perspective in Europe. In some of the most emitting sectors, such as aviation and shipping, electrification is expected to take a long time. This is due to the need for development of electric engines to be fully operational in shipping and aviation.
However, there is the possibility of indirect electrification by using green energy as a catalyst for a number of conversion technologies, which are commonly referred to as Power-to-X. The term is a collective description of all the technologies that can convert energy from green electricity to another form of energy (X), e.g. hydrogen.
Developing more infrastructure for the use of power-to-X could save huge amounts of energy. In Germany alone, over 40,000 MW is produced in wind power and solar power, but every year around 5,500 MW of this potential is lost because the electricity grids cannot absorb it all.
In Denmark, there is a strong focus on electricification. Recently, investments have been made in two new Power-to-X flagship projects.
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3. Comprehensive green energy system is a must-have
Finally, the DI report highlights the need for a comprehensive green energy system. Denmark needs to employ more and more green sources of energy to increase the share of renewable sources in the energy mix. However, the argument is that not only should there be a focus on increasing the share of renewable energy, but also a focus on reducing wasted energy.
In order to ensure that energy is not wasted, there is a need of a focus on linking different sectors of the economy. In 2017, around 90 billion tonnes of natural resources were extracted to support the global economy – more than 12 tonnes for every person on the planet, according to the UN. Based on current trends from the UN, this figure is expected to be more than twice that by 2050.
Therefore, the need for solutions that support greater circularity of energy is great. The potential is there and the innovative solutions are already present to allow a huge reduction of CO2 emissions. Using these solutions and increasing climate ambitions, Denmark had its greenest year ever in 2019.