Why Energy Transition Needs Systemic Approach
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
The recent debacle of Texas and California public energy infrastructures due to extreme weather events plunged nearly millions of Americans into unrelenting darkness and cold. Energy crisis in both Texas and California had one thing in common: blaming renewable energy i.e. solar and wind for massive failure of their power grids. However, careful assessment would reveal that even though renewables might have responsibility for some portion of the failure but they were not primarily to blame for these power failures. For instance, some experts have identified plenty of sensible ways to make the Texan grid better i.e. weatherization of existing power plants and lines, improved connections to other grids, regulations that encourage various forms of resilience as well as low prices.
It is also clear that if governments need to meet public policy goals related to CO2 and other greenhouse gases emissions reductions then energy system needs more renewables not less. But the path to low-carbon energy future is not straightforward. The fact is that decarbonisation and decentralization of energy using renewables have increased the complexity of running the energy system. This added complexity requires management, and that management requires high level of digitalization to ensure reliability and security of the energy system.
Therefore, transition to sustainable energy is more than just switch off one technology or switch off some types of fuels rather it requires necessary changes in structures, behaviors, laws, and market instruments. Hence, it is evident that a transition to a sustainable energy future, is not without problems. Numerous questions demand an answer. The best way to answer those questions is to have a holistic and integrated approach to the energy system in order to understand what more (i.e. digitalization, policy and market signals) is required to realize a climate-resilient energy future.