The global shift towards renewable power generation is well underway. Although two thirds of the world’s electricity is still generated by fossil fuels, a huge transition is nevertheless taking place. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that by 2050, over 80% of the world’s electricity will be renewable based.
However, if this goal is to be successfully reached it will require collaboration, innovation and openness between companies. No single company can navigate this massive change alone.
Sushil Purohit, President of Wärtsilä Energy, EVP Wärtsilä, recently discussed the path to net zero together with Heikki Vepsäläinen, President, Large Motors and Generators at ABB Motion, on ABB’s “Industry Insights” series.
The discussion focused on how these two industry leaders are approaching the target to reach net zero, and the solutions being offered by the two companies to support the transformation. Both agreed that collaboration can create faster, more reliable and efficient ways to carbon-free electricity. In essence, the challenge is to build reliable and viable means for utilities, industries, and nations to maximise the use of renewable energy.
The future of the world at stake
Asked what personally motivates him, Sushil pointed to the fact that the world we will pass on to the next generation, should be in better shape than when we inherited it. Unfortunately, we have actually made it worse. “If we do not accelerate efforts to reach net zero, I’m afraid we will pass on a world that is no longer livable. That is what really drives me, because we are in a position to do something about this situation and to make a meaningful impact. And if we don’t take that responsibility, I think we are not doing our job.”
He went on to say: “The good news is that net zero, and having a 100% renewable power system, is not only possible, but is technically and commercially feasible with the technologies already available today.”
There is a need to have and to implement a credible energy transition plan, and to ensure that the investments flow to the right place at the right time.
Solutions for efficiently transforming the industry
Climate change has long shown that we need to urgently transform the energy sector into including more flexible and sustainable power systems. The global events of the past few months have emphasised this need. The hope is that one day, the entire world will be powered by renewable energy.
But to achieve this, a major challenge must be overcome. That is to change the current energy infrastructure, upon which power systems have relied for decades, without disrupting the electricity supply.
“While moving towards 100% renewable energy system, we have to keep the lights on all the time, and at Wärtsilä we have been preparing for this for decades”, Sushil explained. “We have developed accurate modeling capabilities for power systems, and this is enabling our customers to plan for a more optimised and future-proof energy mix in their systems”.
This is how we build sustainability for the future; through excellent collaboration. In that way, we can create a better world for our future generations. –Sushil Purohit
Wärtsilä’s power system modeling has been carried out for over 150 countries. In almost all cases, the survey points to a virtually identical transition path; what the results show is that countries must first invest heavily in renewable energy. Then they need to ensure that the power system has the flexibility to allow all this renewable energy to be utilised with optimal effectiveness.
Describing Wärtsilä’s role in this, Sushil said: “Our job is then to develop market-leading technologies, including balancing power plants, energy storage systems, and solutions for life-cycle optimisation. These developments deliver the flexibility needed for large-scale introduction of renewables, and help our customers decarbonise faster. Going forward, we are working hard preparing for alternative sustainable fuels that will play a key role in achieving a green and clean future.”
Collaboration creates market-leading opportunities
Making all this happen cannot be the job of one company alone. As Sushil explained during the conversation: “There’s no silver bullet. We all need to work together to make change effective. Wärtsilä and ABB share a decade-long tradition of cooperation as two companies building energy-efficient solutions for a more sustainable world.”
Right now, on a daily and weekly basis, the two companies are collaborating to create market-leading solutions that enable customers to accelerate decarbonisation.
Expressing his enthusiasm, Sushil noted: “I’m really excited with the partnering and collaborations that we have. I think what we see is Wärtsilä’s expertise in system-optimisation and market-leading technology on the balancing side, and ABB’s expertise in motors and generators. By combining our joint know-how, I think we can find really good solutions that will speed the journey towards decarbonisation.”
These collaborative efforts can ultimately help lower electricity costs for consumers, while providing system reliability.
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