By Steve Brown, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at IMServ
Energy Transition has been high on the agenda as the country moves forward with its 2050 Net Zero ambitions and building a low-carbon future.
The horrifying war in Ukraine has however brought a global energy crisis and unprecedented challenges for our energy security during the past 12 months.
With rising energy costs and inflation having a huge impact on households and industry, it would be easy for Government energy policy-makers to focus on short-term goals and lose sight of the bigger Net Zero ambitions.
Despite the pressing need to respond to the volatile market conditions and create better conditions for both consumers and business, it’s also hugely important that we don’t lose momentum and maintain progress on our 2050 target in a responsible, sustainable, and importantly, economically viable way.
What is generally agreed is that if we have any chance of reaching our carbon-neutral goals then we need to take big steps in the next decade.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a technological silver bullet coming to the rescue. Some of the most promising tech, like Green Hydrogen or Carbon Capture, for example, is still some time away from being economically viable. So, in the short term, we need to look at what can be done immediately to reduce emissions while maintaining our energy security and standards of living.
I’m incredibly positive for the future because there is something we can do now to help achieve the Energy Transition we all need and it’s quite a simple word to understand. In fact, the answer has been staring us in the face – efficiency. So, what is efficiency and how does it relate to energy? If you improve a process and save energy at the same time, that’s efficiency – it’s that simple.
I know efficiency can make an enormous difference in the energy transition and can immediately play a major part in getting us to Net Zero. Throughout my extensive experience in energy businesses across the world, I have seen how small daily efficiency changes can make huge differences in how energy is both produced and consumed.
Currently, there’s a lot of investment in new tech to help make processes more efficient to support the transition to a lower carbon economy – but that will take time to bear fruit.
In terms of more immediate results, we can improve straight away with simple efficiency improvements, like data collection and analysis, and more regular services, which will not only reduce emissions but also improve business performance and bring instant wins for every stakeholder in the energy supply chain.
Helping both buyers and suppliers understand their consumption and forecast more accurately, could reduce their costs as well as diminish the perils of volatile markets and market prices. If users are having access to more accurate and frequent data, that will help the whole energy industry to fulfil its potential and reach its target goals. I believe that accuracy and completeness are key factors in unlocking that powerful instrument, as even small deviations can have big impacts on energy consumption and their overall impact on the network.
One example of efficiency in action which is happening right now is the rollout of smart and advanced meters. At the forefront of equipping businesses with the data they need for efficient energy management, they are a fundamental technology to help customers monitor and become smarter with their energy usage. Government-mandated demand for smart metering sets out binding annual installation targets for energy suppliers to roll out smart and advanced meters to their non-smart customers by 2025, yet current industry levels of smart meter expansion are still relatively low and insufficient in order to reach the ambitious targets.
Electricity metering and data services are useful in all key economic areas such as the industrial, commercial, and domestic electricity sectors. Analytics can not only help business and individual users to be more energy efficient and cost-effective with their energy usage but also ensures that the National Grid is running sustainably, as it continues to meet demand when there’s a greater introduction of solar and electric vehicles into the grid.
Furthermore, it’s a well-known truth that over time, traditional sources of energy will have to increasingly make way for renewable alternatives. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t improve the traditional energy efficiency today, though, so we must be considering how those assets can be better used in the short term and repurpose those applications to be more energy efficient.
For example, investment into renewable energy developers which convert conventional supply chain businesses into new energy-efficient applications has a crucial role to play in our transition. We need that experience and technical brainpower to make the transition succeed and find new ways of using energy sources that are already produced.
Energy transition needs definitive actions on both individual and corporate level. Whether it is to install smart meters, utilise data to understand energy usage better or improve overall efficiency and reduce costs. It is vital to continue providing consumers with the needed support to turn those actions into measurable and viable results. In order to succeed in our Net Zero mission, there must be a joint effort led by the right people with knowledge, and the commitment to achieve efficiency.
By investing in efficiency, Britons will access more energy at a lower price through cleaner technologies and processes, and importantly guarantee their energy security by depending less on volatile energy markets.