Energy transition

With a global shift to more renewable power, we have an opportunity to reinvent the way our energy system operates to unlock a low-carbon energy future. 

Flexible energy systems will power the future

The transition to a more sustainable, low-carbon future is accelerating. This energy transition is driven by the progressive replacement of carbon-based fuels with renewables, clean air regulation and the direct and indirect electrification of more applications.

Today, energy flows through the grid in more directions and through more devices than ever before, and although that decentralisation creates more complexities and challenges, it also creates new potential. Everything as a Grid is our approach to reinventing the way power is distributed, stored and consumed.

Our Everything as a Grid approach is shaping a future where homeowners and businesses can reduce the cost and environmental impact of energy. Flexible, intelligent power creates new opportunities for everyone.

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The transition to renewable power

Global renewable adoption is on the rise; electricity demand is expected to reach 38,700 terawatt-hours by 2050 – with renewables providing 50% of that energy.1

The highly distributed nature of renewable energy is upending the traditional power delivery model. Electricity no longer flows in one direction from the utility that generates it to those who consume it. The new energy ecosystem comprises an intricate network of “prosumers” – consumers and businesses who produce their own energy locally, use what’s needed and in many cases, are looking to export excess power back to the grid. Furthermore, the electrification of transport, building systems and industrial processes will drive considerable increases in demand for electrical power over the coming decades. Data centers, offices, factories and similar sites can participate in the transition via battery and thermal energy storage systems and grid-interactive uninterruptible power systems. 

This will give rise to vast bi-directional electricity flows requiring a network with the flexibility to cope with higher volatility and demand.

Increase in global electricity demand by 2050
57
%
Increase in global electricity demand by 2050
Growth in energy storage installed base by 2030
13X
Growth in energy storage installed base by 2030
Growth of electricity required for data and computing by 2030
4X
Growth of electricity required for data and computing by 2030

Planning for the shift to more electrical power

The electrification of more areas of the economy, including transport, building systems and industry will drive a substantial increase in power demand by 2050. It is technically feasible to meet this extra demand with electricity generated from low or zero carbon sources. However, this will require concerted government support through policy and regulation as well as research and development to reduce the cost of new green energy sources like clean hydrogen.

Decarbonisation: cleaner power

Businesses and consumers are participating in cleaner power initiatives. Active corporate sourcing of renewable electricity reached 465 terawatt-hours (TWh), with production for self-consumption reaching 165TWh.2 On the consumer side, electric vehicle (EV) charging technology prices continue to fall, while charging point accessibility continues to rise. 

By facilitating the trading of self-generated clean electricity to reduce energy costs, we’re enabling energy users, both consumers and businesses, to participate in demand response programmes where the utility can turn demand and/or on-site generation up or down in response to signals for real-time grid balancing needs. 

Democratisation: less reliance on the grid

More homes, businesses and communities are becoming self-sufficient power producers that rely less on the utility grid. They generate, store and consume their own energy via renewable solar arrays, wind turbines, microgrids and battery storage. And they create a bi-directional flow that is changing the way power is managed and reducing the impact of sudden outages caused by rolling blackouts, cyberattacks and extreme weather events. These prosumers may also sell excess energy back to the grid and take advantage of demand response programmes to help reduce utility bills. 

Digitalisation: connectivity behind powerful decisions

Digital innovation can be used to make smarter business or personal energy management decisions. It’s the transformation of the data from appliances, equipment or processes into actionable insights that help consumers and businesses drive new efficiencies, maximise uptime and manage their energy footprint.

 

Through technologies that support bi-directional power generation, storage and energy management, we’re playing a critical role in helping meet demand growth and balance grid volatility. We are reimagining and rebuilding the electrical power value chain.  

Embracing the new power paradigm

Homes, offices, stadiums, factories and data centres can now generate and store more of their own power to optimise energy costs, lower their carbon footprint and in some cases, reduce reliance on the grid. This is Everything as a Grid.

Traditional electrical power infrastructures must be upgraded, with software and services optimising every process, to realise new energy benefits. We enable a systems approach to infrastructure integration and the technologies that help transform power generation and distribution for homes, buildings and utilities. 

See how the energy transition can help you seize the opportunity to improve the performance and expand functional use of your building infrastructure

Responding to the high demand for low carbon 

Renewable and battery market shares continue to rise and play a larger role in the global power supply, even in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The steady increase of competitiveness in renewables, along with their modularity, rapid scalability and job creation potential, make them highly attractive as countries and communities evaluate economic stimulus options.3

The challenge lies in balancing variable renewable power and storage options against the always-there, always-on power that users demand. By helping utilities, building managers and homeowners adopt renewable power and storage strategies, we’re helping to make clean energy available when and where it’s needed.

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Energy storage

Capture renewable energy whenever it’s available and use it on demand. You’ll see immediate gains in reliability, realise greater independence from the utility grid and avoid dips in grid power supply due to brownouts, cyberattacks and weather-related events. This transformational technology revolutionises power for all, with energy storage available for the home, commercial and industrial buildings and even large-scale implementations for utilities. 

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EnergyAware UPS

Our EnergyAware technology helps applications like data centres to support energy providers by balancing sustainable power generation and consumption. The technology optimises power usage during peak demand hours and helps facilities earn additional revenues from currently deployed assets while maintaining complete control of deployed uninterruptible power systems and batteries.

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Electric vehicles

Changing energy demands will affect infrastructure investments – and understanding that impact will be critical in enabling a resilient systems approach that seamlessly and flexibly integrates different assets and EV infrastructure. Power systems, EV manufacturers and charging infrastructure providers can then drive a deeper understanding of energy usage to maximise energy efficiency and lower operational costs to consumers.

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Microgrids

Built to help isolate power from the main grid, microgrids balance multiple sources of on-site generation and demand to make energy available when it is needed.

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Grid modernisation

Discover how utilities can adopt grid modernisation technologies to build resilient, efficient and secure power networks.

Adapting to fast-changing regulations

Regulators are starting to make important changes to incentivise services like demand response to reduce costs, encourage and integrate the uptake of clean energy and increase customer participation. However, we have far to go if we are to replicate best practices and further encourage innovation. This includes financial mechanisms that reward utilities and distribution companies for contracting with distributed energy providers in place of capital investments – a departure from traditional regulation in which the addition of new capital assets is the main source of profit. Through market data analysis and expert insights, we help companies and countries prepare for and embrace the regulatory changes needed to assure a reliable power mix. 

Ensuring cybersecurity throughout the transition

Only 48% of utility executives feel they are prepared to handle the challenges of a cyberattack interruption.4 As utilities address the challenges of improving power reliability and efficiency, they must also contend with the near-constant barrage of security threats.

We proactively address cyber threats via a system-wide defensive approach and an unwavering focus on the dangers malware, spyware and ransomware present across the globe. Our team members meet and exceed competencies recognised by international standards organisations like UL, IEC, ISA and others through rigorous, in-depth technical training programmes. Our "secure-by-design” philosophy, processes and secure development lifecycle are integrated into product development and guide our labs, procurement and design teams as the foundation of innovation. And our understanding of and influence in changing global standards help guide safer, more efficient energy infrastructures.

Powering the energy transition

The technologies that convert wind and sunlight to renewable energy have matured, allowing for more flexible power possibilities. The growth of renewables, localised electricity production and bi-directional energy helps more homes, businesses and communities produce their own clean, dependable energy for less reliance on the utility grid. Count on Eaton for the technologies and digital intelligence needed for you to join this energy transition. Through our Everything as a Grid approach, infrastructures can be re-vamped to manage and optimise renewable integration, so you can realise more efficient, sustainable power that costs less.

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References

1 BloombergNEF (September 2018). Global Electricity Demand to Increase 57% by 2050. Retrieved from https://about.bnef.com/blog/global-electricity-demand-increase-57-2050/#:~:text=Global%20electricity%20demand%20will%20reach,our%20New%20Energy%20Outlook%202018

2 IRENA (2018). Corporate Sourcing of Renewables: Market and Industry Trends. Retrieved from https://irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2018/May/IRENA_Corporate_sourcing_2018.pdf

3 IRENA (2020). Renewable power generation costs in 2019. Retrieved from https://www.irena.org/-/media/Files/IRENA/Agency/Publication/2020/Jun/IRENA_Power_Generation_Costs_2019.pdf

4 Accenture (2015). The New Energy Consumer Unleashing Business Value in a Digital World. Retrieved from https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/Accenture/next-gen/insight-unlocking-value-of-digital-consumer/PDF/Accenture-New-Energy-Consumer-Final.pdf