When industry giants, with decades of experience under their belts, take steps to give their business a facelift, you know things are afoot in the energy transition. What the impact will be, I could not guess.
I can speculate that any business that ignores the rumblings will not live to tell the tale.
We have already seen how giants in the finance and oil and gas market have taken tentative steps to reroute their focus. One that comes to mind is BP.
BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, on the release of their annual edition of statistical review of world energy, said the report provides timely data needed to make sense of the most “tumultuous events affecting energy markets in any of the past seven decades”.
The seventieth edition of the company’s report reflects how primary energy consumption fell by 4.5% in 2020 – the most significant annual decline since 1945. Oil accounted for almost three-quarters of the net decline, and natural gas prices declined to multi-year lows.
The company notes that wind, solar and hydroelectricity generation all grew despite overall energy demand dropping. I contend that it is telling that a traditional oil and gas company finally admits renewable energy is a competing market. Not only that, a competing market they will lose to and thus have to enter before it is too late.
It is excellent to know that BP is vocal on the subject, stating that the importance of the past 70 years “pales into insignificance as we consider the challenges facing the energy system over the next 10, 20, 30 years. To reach net-zero, the level of ambition shown by countries and companies needs to translate into significant, sustained falls in emissions. Everyone, from businesses to governments to consumers, has a role to play in delivering that”.
Emphasis is on everyone – but unlike some major players, not everyone has been lagging on getting to grips with the essential ingredients to make the ultimate net-zero meal.
For their efforts in the energy transition, Sherlock Grids in Benin, a special purpose vehicle created in Benin by minigrid operator Power:On and France-based independent power producer Akuo, has received grant funding from US Trade and Development Agency.
Their project aims to demonstrate the benefits of implementing a digitalised system to integrate and remotely manage multiple minigrids fully. How great that the market is now open to this level of digitalisation where smart meters, digital models of the minigrid and their distribution networks, and software for real-time outage management, asset management and planning form part of the minigrid system.
As we go about “rewiring” energy systems, we must also incorporate circular economy and cradle to grave principles in the energy transition.
Since steel is a crucial ingredient of a renewable energy plant and the whole electricity supply chain, we cannot ignore the large amounts of emissions created in steel making. While global steel company SSAB is addressing this by trialling the world’s first fossil-free steel, we are far from mass production.
Nevertheless, it is a start, and that is a crucial message. Everyone must start and do so without further delay.
That is why giving recognition to those who have taken steps is central to our story. These are the people and projects shaping our future. You, too, can show your acknowledgement by nominating them into the 2022 edition of the African Power & Energy Elites publication.
We have already received fantastic support for the energy transition movers and shakers of our time. You have until 22 September to also show your appreciation of those you believe are leading in their field of utility-scale generation, off-grid and micro application, smart solutions or a start-up company with at least one project on the ground.
Our team applauds you for taking the step to recognise the adventurous trendsetters who are listening to the rumblings of the revolution.