Technology Record - Issue 31: Winter 2023

114 VIEWPOINT Decarbonisation and electrification in three key areas is key to addressing the climate crisis OLIVIER BLUM: SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC Transforming energy use for a sustainable future The energy and climate crises looming over us might seem like two unrelated events, but they are two sides of the same coin. When we consider that energy-related greenhouse gas emissions make up 80 per cent of all human-driven emissions, and that over 60 per cent of all energy produced globally is lost or wasted before it’s consumed, it becomes clear that decarbonisation is really an energy challenge. Recently, my fellow experts at Schneider Electric and I shared in a docuseries with CNBC how energy demand can be reduced in three critical areas: buildings, industry and transport, and how addressing energy demand will contribute more than half of the changes required for complete decarbonisation. The future of buildings needs to be all-digital and all-electric According to the World Green Building Council, buildings are responsible for almost 40 per cent of all energy-related carbon emissions worldwide. Nearly three quarters of these come from the energy that heats, cools and powers them, and digitalisation and electrification are powerful ways to change that. Retrofitting buildings plays a large part in this. Installing low-energy design elements, such as better insulation, LED lights and high-efficiency air-conditioning systems is a start, but the real impact comes from digital energy-management tools like sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, noise and light levels, and software that can analyse and visualise energy usage, enabling inhabitants and building managers to make informed, real-time decisions to optimise comfort and efficiency. It’s imperative to increase the energy efficiency of new buildings, too. This involves efficient cooling and heating that factor in the future of the world’s climate, incorporating electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and using zero- or low-carbon materials. A good example of this is CityCon in Finland. The developer creates buildings and cities with numerous sustainability strategies in mind. CityCon recently partnered with Schneider Electric to install a virtual power plant solution in the Lippulaiva shopping centre in Helsinki, Finland. The virtual power plant harnesses solar energy, energy storage and demand flexibility whilst the software platform uses artificial intelligence to monitor and manage all building technology systems as well as control and optimise energy flows. This has since resulted in a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. The decarbonisation opportunity in energyintensive industries Industry is responsible for around 30 per cent of all energy-related emissions, so it’s vital that the 2020s become the ‘electric decade’, in which sites and whole supply chains are decarbonised. Industries can take matters into their own hands using a microgrid, a self-sufficient energy system that serves a nearby building or business. These combine the on-site production of renewable energy, battery storage and EV charging points so organisations can achieve