Electricity 4.0 'fastest route to net zero and carbon free'

Steve Smith at Schneider Electric highlights centrality of electric and digital in meeting net zero targets on opening day of Sustainability Live

Electricity 4.0 is the fastest route to net zero and developing a carbon free future, according to Steve Smith, Global Head of Marketing at Schneider Electric.

Speaking on the opening day of Sustainability Live, he said Schneider Electric, which is present in more than 100 countries and employs over 140,000 people, is aiming to be carbon neutral scope 1 and 2 by 2025 and net zero with no offsets by 2030.

He underlined the key interaction between energy and digital in realising company and industry targets.

"More than 80% of CO2 comes from the production or consumption of energy," he said. "However around 60% of today's energy is either lost or wasted, so we need to make it smarter, and use it smarter."

With emissions up 5% as economies rebound after COVID, he said the need to make energy more efficient is even more acute.

"The good news is we don't have to wait for a silver bullet," he said. "We believe that all the technology and solutions exist and the fastest route is to make the world more electric and more digital.

"In the fourth industrial revolution, we see the massive convergence of scale in electric and digital, which will tackle how we make energy green and smart, so we can avoid the worst. It's about upgrading every stage of the power chain - distribution needs to be more reliable, and that means more microgrids and consumers producing energy themselves."

Schneider Electric has carried out projects in which the building cost 5% more than standard, but uses 1/10th of the electricity.

"A lot of people simply don't know about it - we want to cut through the noise, and the way we tackle it is by starting on the demand side, and using automation. While there's a lot of focus on new buildings, we need to bring older buildings up to speed as well."

Asked about hydrogen's potential, he said it is never going to be as efficient as direct electrification. "The real opportunity is in green hydrogen but it requires entirely renewable electricity, and quite a lot of water. We only see it contributing around 10% to the energy mix in future."

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