Earth Day: Increasing Use of Renewables & Energy Efficiency

Massimo Muzzì, Head of Strategy, Business Development and Sustainability at ABB Electrification sits down with Energy Digital Magazine for Earth Day

Rising carbon emissions have been a troublesome area to overcome when it comes to making energy more environmentally friendly. To limit global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050, urgent action is needed.

This Earth Day, we look ahead to Earth Day in 2050 — which could look very different in respects to the world’s climate if action is not taken.

Curbing emissions is not something that can be tackled by one person, business, sector or country, though. It requires a mass joint effort, uniting industry and society to come up with new ways of generating, using and managing energy. 

According to the IEA, the use of renewable energy needs triple and energy efficiency double to reach net-zero by the aforementioned milestone year.

ABB Electrification’s Massimo Muzzì advocates that one solid way that this can be done is through electrification.

He shares that advances in renewable energy generation and distribution through an integrated grid infrastructure are offering an increasingly viable path for transition to cleaner energy production that is instrumental in curbing CO₂ emissions from power generation. A variety of means — including smart grids, energy storage solutions and decentralised energy systems — are already playing their part in optimising electricity generation and distribution, enabling the seamless integration of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

However, for electrification to be delivered within the required timeframe calls for collaboration throughout the value chain, from suppliers through to governments, industries and academia. In Massimo’s eyes — and there’s no doubt others will agree — this is crucial to overcoming challenges such as infrastructure deployment, affordability and universal access to electrification technology.

In his role as Head of Strategy, Business Development and Sustainability at ABB Electrification, Massimo’s passion for both science and problem solving shines through, something he applies to his work each day in a bid to decarbonise our planet as fast as possible.

How does ABB Electrification plan to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources and increase energy efficiency to meet the ambitious climate targets set for 2050?

“Our customers are looking for improvements in energy efficiency for their operations as well as innovative ways to integrate renewable energy sources, either for lower carbon solutions or energy costs,” Massimo explains. “We help customers optimise, electrify and decarbonise. The increasing focus on a lower carbon future means there is a greater need for efficient industrial processes and buildings, sustainable transportation, renewables and grid security.”

For utility customers, the grid is being updated and needs hardening, and there are opportunities for DC and microgrids, he adds. This is because DC grid technology is the most adapted for renewables as it reduces energy losses and the raw materials needed. 

This is backed up by the IEA, which declared that by 2030 global solar installations will generate more electricity than the entire US power system does currently.

“We are also developing more sustainable switchgear and solutions for energy efficiency and decarbonisation, for example,” he says. “AI will play an increasingly important role in electrification and sustainability — particularly in optimising energy usage, enhancing grid efficiency and security, enabling smart charging solutions for electric vehicles, predictive maintenance and integrating renewable energy sources into the electrical grid.  

“We are also enhancing transparency through the circularity value of a number of our products meeting customers’ needs for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in their installations. At the same time, we are reducing our own emissions and improving circularity in our operations and supply chain.!

Collaboration key to overcome challenges in deploying electrification infrastructure and ensuring universal access to electrification technologies

Firm in the belief that we cannot deliver a cleaner and more sustainable future alone, ABB focuses on open innovation with partners large and small. ABB also partners with more than 100 universities globally including specific electrification partnerships with more than 20 leading universities, like University of Cambridge to ETH Zurich.

Massimo continues: “National governments and utility companies are some of our most important customers. In addition, we regularly engage with policy makers to help them understand the challenges and opportunities of our industry.”

Advancements in electrification technology will significantly contribute to reductions in CO₂ emissions by 2050

Massimo outlines how a smarter and robust electrical grid facilitates the growth of EV and sustainable transportation. Being smarter will support the increased energy demand, optimise energy use and provide stable and reliable supply, especially as the energy mix includes more renewables. 

“Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) are a key component,” he adds, “reducing stress on the system and offering a way to integrate wind and solar by balancing supply and demand. 

“For any facility, whether manufacturing cars, prefabricated buildings, construction materials, or food and beverage processing, energy efficiency is the quickest and most effective way to reduce energy costs and emissions - it’s the fastest way to net zero.”


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