Digital driving partnerships and leading to 'smarter ideas'
The digitalisation of the energy industry is firmly underway: that was a clear take-away message from today's hour-long discussion involving industry leaders at the Siemens Energy Shaping the Energy of Tomorrow online conference (MEA Energy Week), even if the manner in which it evolves remains constantly open to debate as companies grapple with the best course of direction amid the ever-changing pace of technology and economic uncertainties presented by COVID-19.
Khaled Al Blooshi (ADNOC VP Digital Projects and Innovation), Christiaan Van der Wouden (Operational Excellence, Oman Oil Company), Jennifer Hooper (SVP, Industrial Applications Solutions, Siemens Energy) and Abed Benaichouche (CTO, Group 42 Energy), debated a wide range of subjects in a panel entitled 'Digitalising the energy industry'. Often the discussion embraced complementary and divergent ideas at the same time as befits the myriad changes and fast-paced developments.
Take partnerships. These should be "top down" and "bottom up", was the consensus; similarly joint ventures blend the best of in-house knowledge with external expertise. The example of how an Italian company had blended management experience with tech-savvy youth was held up as digitalisation success. For Van de Wouden, digital is a "key enabler" for differentiating itself from the competition.
Al Blooshi said insurance premiums "should be lower" as the industry develops more predictive maintenance and de-risk tools. "Insurance companies will see the benefits of digitalisation if it reduces risk," added Van de Wouden, citing positive developments with electronic permits.
Hooper said digitalisation provides room for smarter ideas, whether that's robotics or automation, and represents a whole new way of working for an industry nurtured on "turning wrenches"; she said the journey is only just starting with Siemens Energy only finding applications for 5 percent of the data it is currently collecting. "We need to look beyond boundaries that exist today," she said.
Benaichouche said while efficiency in the industry stands at around 47 percent, upcoming developments - he highlighted quantum computing and blockchain - should increase it, and even a 2-5 percent global improvement would see significant changes. Following an 18-month pre-launch period, ADNOC recently launched the AIQ with Group 42 (ADNOC holds a 60 percent stake, G42 40 percent) in a bid to accelerate the development of new AI solutions to optimise processes, improve planning and increase profitability for ADNOC and the wider oil and gas industry.
In an earlier discussion, Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum, highlighted the need to co-ordinate global emissions, especially given one billion people have no access to electricity and three billion are still burning wood for their energy needs. "How can we achieve a global price of carbon? It needs to get global and if it's each country doing their own thing, it won't be fast enough."
Paraphrasing the environmental activist Greta Thunberg, he said: "We are rearranging the furniture while the living room is on fire."
AES Corp seals 10-year carbon-free energy deal with Google
The AES Corporation has struck a 10-year supply contract with Google to provide near-carbon-free energy to power its Virginia-based data centers which will start later this year.
Claiming the first clean energy procurement deal in the world of its kind, AES will help ensure that the energy powering those data centers will be 90% carbon-free when measured on an hourly basis.
AES will become the sole supplier of the data centers' carbon-free energy needs on an annual basis, sourcing energy from a portfolio of wind, solar, hydro and battery storage resources to be developed or contracted by AES.
The agreement marks an important step in meeting Google's previously announced goal to run its business on 100% carbon-free energy on an hourly basis by 2030.
"Last year, Google set an ambitious sustainability goal of committing to 100% 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030. Today, we are proud that through our collaboration with Google, we are making 24/7 carbon-free energy a reality for their data centers in Virginia," said Andrés Gluski, AES President and CEO. "This first-of-its-kind solution, which we co-created with Google, will set a new sustainability standard for companies and organizations seeking to eliminate carbon from their energy supply."
"Not only is this partnership with AES an important step towards achieving Google's 24/7 carbon-free energy goal, it also lays a blueprint for other companies looking to decarbonize their own operations," says Michael Terrell, Director of Energy at Google. "Our hope is that this model can be replicated to accelerate the clean energy transition, both for companies and, eventually, for power grids."
AES assembled the 500MW portfolio from a combination of AES' own renewable energy projects and those of third-party developers, which were selected, sized and contracted to meet Google's energy needs across a number of considerations, including cost efficiency, additionality and carbon-free energy profile.
The portfolio assembled by AES is expected to require approximately $600 million of investment and generate 1,200 jobs, both permanent and construction, in the host communities. These efforts will greatly simplify Google's energy procurement and management at a competitive price while decarbonizing Google's load and the broader PJM grid.
This supply agreement follows on the strategic alliance AES and Google formed in November 2019 to leverage Google Cloud technology to accelerate innovation in energy distribution and management and advance the adoption of clean energy. AES is pioneering greener, smarter energy innovations, with the goal of expanding the services available to large-scale corporate customers.
The Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate commits €10M to fund bold ideas that aim to use technology to accelerate Europe’s progress toward a greener, more resilient future. Selected organisations may receive up to €2M in funding and possible customised post-grant support from the Google for Startups Accelerator to help bring their ideas to life.
Last year it issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds to fund ongoing and new environmentally or socially responsible projects. To read its 2020 Environment report, click here.