Innovating to net zero is more important than ever

As the world reflects on COP27 and future priorities, it is clear that the transition to clean energy is a major part of achieving global climate ambitions. The transition to clean energy is the surest path to long-term affordability, energy independence and sustainability. Therefore, innovation to decarbonize the energy system is key to addressing these challenges.

The UK has come a long way in decarbonising over the past decade, with 2020 setting a new record as the greenest year ever. On 3 January 2022, 91 per cent of UK electricity came from low-carbon sources. Report published Operator of the national power grid system shows that the UK’s electricity system is on track to run without fossil fuels. These may be short periods at first, but they will still be an important milestone on the way to net zero, and these periods will quickly increase.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution

Embracing flexibility during decarbonisation will be key to success and should be the focus of the industry’s innovation work.

In order to decarbonise residential heating, for example, regional preferences, consumer choice and property type will be taken into account – so while some properties will be suitable for a heat pump installation, others will be better suited for hydrogen. boiler.

This principle also applies to transport. It is important that consumers have as much flexibility as possible in how and when they charge their vehicles. For example, some drivers may want to charge their vehicles during the day, some at night, some at home, and some at work. Consumer choice and simplicity will be key.

New technologies

A zero-carbon world will require great engineering solutions to solve the decarbonization challenge. And it is clear that such decisions are already having an impact.

For example, technologies like smart meters create a two-way grid where people can feed excess energy generation from solar panels back into the grid. And interconnectors – huge undersea cables that allow countries to share excess renewable energy, with the potential to power millions of homes – are an example of a highly innovative technique that provides clean and green system flexibility on a national scale. By 2030, 90 percent of the electricity imported through the interconnectors of the national grid will come from zero-carbon sources. We estimate that between now and 2030, our interconnectors will help the UK avoid around 100 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

Net zero labor

We need diverse people and skills to innovate and build the infrastructure that will ensure the transition to a clean, fair and affordable energy future. Research by National Grid suggests the UK energy sector would need 400,000 green jobs to reach net zero – 120,000 this decade alone.

The Government’s Green Jobs Task Force has outlined key recommendations to help develop and improve the skills needed – and now those recommendations must be translated into action. We are seeing steps in the right direction with the recently established UK Green Jobs Delivery Group, designed to implement the recommendations of the Green Jobs Task Force, a joint initiative of BEIS and the Department for Education with representatives from business, trade unions and academia. The ambition itself is to create and support up to 480,000 skilled, well-paid green jobs across all sectors by 2030. By urgently implementing the task force’s recommendations, the group could help build a workforce capable of meeting clean energy goals.

Continuous innovation is essential

Achieving net zero is the greatest engineering challenge of the 21ststr century. But there is much to be encouraged about in terms of how far we have come and the exciting innovative technologies and solutions that are coming to life. As we work towards 2030, 2035 and 2050, continued cross-sector collaboration, innovation and embracing flexibility will be critical to achieving net zero.

David Wright is a Chief Engineer at National Grid. To learn more Click here.

This article is sponsored by National Grid.

https://www.businessgreen.com/sponsored/4060409/innovating-net-zero Innovating to net zero is more important than ever

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