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Critical steps for clean energy transition based on renewable energy sources

Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 4 Aug 2019

In an opinion piece published recently, Christopher Engman formerly with Climeon, shares his view on key elements of further necessary renewable energy deployment in the context of cutting back emissions as part of the global energy transition.

In an interesting article Christopher Engman former CRO/ CMO of Swedish Climeon, a heat power technology provider, shared his view on “How to overcome climate change and what are the critical steps for a clean energy transition based on 100% renewable energy sources?”.

The urgency of climate change and its impact to the world sees a lot of attention, despite the surprisingly opposition in some circles/ countries. But with economic challenges, increasing pressure on power prices and increase of energy demand, CO2 emissions continue to grow. In 2018, energy demand grew 2.1% and energy related CO2 emissions grew with 1.7%. (for the G20 countries, representing around 80% of global energy consumption). To reach COP21 targets by 2050, CO2 emissions must decrease with 3.3% each year … and clearly we are very far from it.

The good news, so Christopher, are that renewable energy deployment continues to grow, while at a slower pace compared to previous years.

He then points to three key steps required in further renewable energy deployment.

  1. Improved Energy Storage Technologies
  2. Breakthrough of innovations
  3. A stronger and more flexible electrical grid

As part of his description of breakthrough innovations, he points to heat power both from heat left over from industrial processes (waste heat) and geothermal energy. With further technological advancement there clearly is room for growth.

He sees “improved energy storage technologies, a breakthrough of innovation and a stronger and more flexible electrical grid are the three most critical steps towards a clean energy transition. Geothermal heat power is the dominating source of energy where the technology can be applicable. Closer to the equator, solar power combined with energy storage is the winning concept and closer to the poles, wind power combined with storage is the best alternative. Maximizing the potential of storage is reached by combining a mix of a strong grid (this is an indirect solution), and energy storage in form of underground pumped hydro, lithium ion and hydrogen.”

In the overall context a rather good insight. At the same time, we need to look at emissions and energy more holistically. Clearly, the issue is how do we use energy at hand the best and for what purpose. Storage in that context is crucial as described by Christopher. The more we can store energy the more flexible are we to fully utilise energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal energy, among others.

Question is how are we going to use energy sources available today and in the future most efficiently and to the fullest extent. What technologies are more suitable in certain geographical or economic settings? What are political implications? How does energy development impact local economies, the livelihood of the local population and how does it effect the environment and quality of life of people living close to any energy development.

But the energy demand includes not only electricity, but also fuel for transportation and fuelling heating and cooling demand. Should we focus on only a few energy sources, or should we create a broader mix of resources and use them specifically for purposes for which they are qualified the best?

Source: Christopher Engman via LinkedIn