How Green Energy Will Transform the Ranks of the World’s Biggest Electric Generators

At-a-Glance:

The world’s energy sector has embarked on a transitional journey to a clean, green, low-carbon future powered by windmills and solar panels. It’s going to be a long trip. According to the International Energy Agency, we still derive an incredible 80% of our primary energy from fossil fuels—with oil contributing 32%, coal 27% and natural gas 23%. To learn more, read How Green Energy Will Transform the Ranks of the World’s Biggest Electric Generators.” Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Electric industry analyst Hugh Wynne of research shop SSR says carbon dioxide will be regulated in one way or another, via a carbon tax, cap-and-trade or emissions allowances.
  • Analysts believe companies with stubbornly high emissions are going to have to pay to pollute — while those with low emissions will enjoy a profitability advantage.
  • Wynne found the “dirtiest” utilities are those with coal-fired fleets in China, Russia and India.
  • Meanwhile, some of the more progressively minded utility companies are keen to take advantage of new tools evolving out of advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Forbes Global 2000 companies Southern Company, Exelon, and Dominion Energy are all customers of a startup called Urbint, which was founded by Forbes 30 Under 30 alum Corey Capasso and has raised more than $40 million in funding for its A.I.-driven infrastructure safety platform.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a very broad field. Forecasts for price and power are generated by AI and represent the expected trajectory or probability distribution of that value. In the end, as a power trader, it is important to remember the historical data is not a picture of the future, but rather a statistical distribution that can be leveraged to inform the most probable outcome of the unknown future. AI is more capable at leveraging statistics than people will ever be. The benefit of using AI is more effective utilization of the existing infrastructure. There is quite a bit of under-utilized infrastructure in the power generation industry. However, with the use of greater intelligence on the edges of the network coupled with great intelligence at the points of central dispatch, under-utilized infrastructure can be maximized for a more reliable power system.

Switching to renewable energy is sometimes dirty. Tech like blockchain can help

At-a-Glance:

The worldwide push to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require advances in green technologies – particularly tech associated with renewable energy – but simply waiting for future tools to emerge isn’t a viable solution to climate change. To learn more, read Switching to renewable energy is sometimes dirty. Tech like blockchain can help.”   Reading this article may require a subscription from the news outlet.

Key Takeaways:

  • According to McKinsey, electricity will occupy 30% of the global demand for power by 2050 – up from 19% today. The International Energy Agency expects renewables to generate 80% of global electricity demand within the next decade, as the cost of renewable generation plummets below the cost of fossil fuels.
  • “Clearly, there’s a great danger that we simply replace a hydrocarbon-based economy…with a metal economy,” says Robert Lee, professor of law at the University of Birmingham in the U.K., referring to the metals that are required to make batteries, such as lithium. Mining those metals is a polluting process itself, and properly disposing of batteries at the end of their shelf life is a looming issue.
  • Digital technologies can help address the challenges involved in switching to renewable energy and electricity. For example, the European Union passed legislation requiring battery manufacturers to stamp battery units with a digital “passport” tag so the battery can be traced through its lifetime.
  • Energy saved by efficiencies introduced through digitalizing will offset the energy consumed by digitalization. This would come through actions like energy suppliers using remote sensors and AI oversight to monitor power demand and distribute electricity efficiently.

Path to 100% Perspective:

The average estimated life of a Lithium-Ion battery is about two to three years or 300 to 500 charge cycles, whichever happens first. Lower costs and increased spending on renewables are driving deeper penetration of renewable energy around the globe. Renewables will certainly play an integral role in powering mining operations because of the benefits they offer in terms of cost and sustainability. Economically it makes sense. The levelled cost of electricity (LCOE) is lower than ever, and renewables are becoming increasingly cost-effective as organizations seek efficiencies and breakthroughs.

 

 

Photo by Launchpresso on Unsplash

The POWER Interview: The Importance of AI and Machine Learning

At-a-Glance:

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are becoming synonymous with the operation of power generation facilities. The increased digitization of power plants, from equipment to software, involves both thermal generation and renewable energy installations. To learn more, read “The POWER Interview: The Importance of AI and Machine Learning.”

Key Takeaways:

  • AI and ML will be key elements for the design of future energy systems, supporting the growth of smart grids and improving the efficiency of power generation, along with the interaction among electricity customers and utilities.
  • Centralized power systems enable equal access to clean power at the lowest cost, reducing economic inequality. Regardless of whether the path forward is more or less centralized, AI brings value to all parties.
  • “AI is very important to smart grids,” Wärtsilä General Manager of Data Science, Energy Storage & Optimization, Luke Witmer said. “AI is extremely important to the integration of smart charging of electric vehicles, and leveraging those mobile batteries for grid services when they are plugged into the grid.”
  • The more AI is used in the dispatch of power plants, the more it will be needed in the design and creation process for new power plants or aggregations of power generation equipment.

Path to 100% Perspective:

Wärtsilä uses AI and equipment expertise to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of power equipment and systems. AI and machine learning will play increasingly important roles in future power generation, especially as more communities and organizations come to rely on smart grids and renewable fuels for their electricity needs.

 

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash