Decarbonisation is the driving force behind energy transformation. Electrification can be a key factor in working towards decarbonisation – provided it is carbon-free.
There are many technological options to decarbonise energy. While some of the options do not emit CO2 at the source of generation, such as nuclear and renewable energy, others limit the release of CO2 emissions such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). Unfortunately, each option has its own difficulties and limitations. Nuclear power comes with the combined challenges of public acceptability and increased costs to meet safety regulations. CCS equipment still faces technical limitations and must overcome high cost. Renewable energy capacity grew very quickly over the last few decades, but now there is need to address concerns of generation intermittency, remoteness in relation to demand centres as well as various system cost implications.
Some big questions remain, such as whether wind and solar PV should be connected to the centralised power grid and how to balance supply and demand instantly and continuously when the number of suppliers and retailers is rising substantially. The increase in suppliers results from the introduction of market liberalisation, prosumers (private owners of PV panels and EV) and virtual power plants (VPPs). How can all suppliers of carbon-free electricity be considered fairly and simultaneously? Can digitalisation provide an answer?
Digitalisation is often described as being instrumental in supporting grid stability and reliability, playing a role in identifying possible failures and optimising production. In other words, digitalisation could improve flexibility, productivity, efficiency, safety and sustainability of the energy systems. This year’s IEEJ Roundtable will discuss and attempt to shed light on the expectations placed on digitalisation. Will digital technologies be able to address the challenges and enable the energy transformation?