Energy Transition is Transition in Chaos
Since the invention of the steam engine, more than 200 years ago, the built-up of electrical and traction energy has organically grown into what we have today. A huge electrical grid, a world encompassing supply network of coal, oil and gas. At the start of that journey no one could foresee how and where it would lead to. Those who contributed a new block to it had their own vision on what that particular innovation could bring.
In the next 10 to 30 years we want to overhaul this whole system completely. And it will be done in the same manner as the old system was built, haphazardly! Every industry, every country, every organization is doing something. But who coordinates all these well intended efforts? Nobody!
Some countries bet heavily on hydrogen, others on wind and solar. Others on Nuclear or Hydro. There are initiatives for distributed electricity, others build even bigger and higher powered grids. Only time and experience will teach us in the end which was the right choice.
That is how it was done in the past two centuries. But will it work with only some 30 years to make the energy transition? Topics at Multilateral Climate Conferences are about how much CO2 will be reduced. About when and who will pay for what.
Promising declarations are issued on reduction of tons of CO2. On the issue of containing global warming by setting targets for temperature rise.
But is there any coordination in writing a Strategy Plan? I do not get that impression from all I read.
What are we going to build?
· A UHVDC grid or a HVAC grid?
· Will electric appliances be AC or DC?
· Will we build a whole piping grid for H2 over large regions?
· Or just an electrical grid?
· Or will energy production be decentralized with local storage?
· What energy will be applied for cars, busses, trucks? Battery or Hydrogen?
· What type of electrical storage for stationary grid support?
Each component will have its advocate. But who will put his/her verdict to this all? Will large vested interest groups push their solution through or will governments decide. Or can interest groups such as consumers and farmers or labor unions have a stake? Will EU’s Green New Deal only be for the own region or will it be aligned with others? Who and what will drive the decisions in US? The states or federal? What will China or India adhere to? Or do they develop their own standards? How will the 5G, and later 6G network, develop?
So many question marks illustrate the Chaos. When aiming for a transition by 2050 most of these questions should be answered and the question marks deleted. Soon!
But who is to eliminate all these question marks? The usual call for a leader, be it a person or a country, will not work in the 21st century. Too many will refuse to march behind a specific leader. Only “Cooperation of many” can create a kind of collective leadership that is acceptable for most. Will we see COP26 in 2021? And what will it have in store for us? Will it provide strong deeds and actions or only soft compromises?
Energy Transition will come, slowly and chaotic. Likely too late!