Many industries already benefit from the transformative power of advanced digitalization. Telecommunications, manufacturing, retail, publishing, and others have seen amazing changes in terms of new opportunities, capabilities, and efficiencies. While the energy sector has long embraced IT, it’s on the verge of a digital makeover.
The dilemma of constantly growing energy demand and the need to address the global climate crisis using increasing amounts of intermittent renewables drives energy companies to make advancements in IT automation and AI, edge computing, and communications. The industry is primed for modernization.
The future is renewable
Growth in energy demand is unlikely to change. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts 47% higher global energy demand by 2050.
What is changing is where energy will be sourced in the coming years. In 2020, just 29% of the world’s electricity came from renewable sources. But by 2050, as we collectively seek to meet net-zero targets, 90% of the world’s electricity is predicted to come from renewable sources. (Download our infographic to learn more about recent trends.)
The question now is, “Can the existing grid infrastructure accommodate these changes?” In short, no. Grid modernization is both necessary and overdue. Upgrades must be made to address ongoing changes like the following:
- Managing intermittent energy generation — As the proportion of intermittent generating capacity (like wind and solar) increases, and the number of points of generation increases, the grid must evolve to support demand-side management. This change requires a transformation of the digital systems that power the grid, especially at the edge.
- Moving from one-way to two-way power flows — For years, energy in the power grid has flowed only one way — from central generation to distributed consumers. Today, however, two-way flows are more common, with distributed generator/consumers on the rise. As solar power continues to grow, more consumers are investing in micro-generation and energy storage that feeds surplus energy back to the grid. Likewise, greater interest in vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies and smart appliances is adding complexity in terms of power flows that necessitate more intelligent metering at the edge.
These changes bring new challenges, but advancements in IT automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and edge-computing capabilities will play a key role. To support these capabilities, we will leverage high-capacity, ultra-low-latency data communications — particularly 5G and the high-capacity communications service provider (CSP) networks that drive it.
Converging OT and IT
The energy infrastructure of tomorrow will be far more complex than today, and a convergence of the best attributes of IT and OT is essential for success. To control and harness technology’s potential, utilities will require OT modernization to leverage vast amounts of real-time data. At the same time, IT providers will be required to deliver higher levels of security, safety and resilience.
All of this presents a tremendous opportunity for energy industry vendors that can help accelerate digital energy transformation, as well as CSPs that can provide the distributed connectivity needed. Through grid modernization efforts, the energy sector will be in a position to support the evolving needs of the industry more effectively with real-time autonomous edge systems. As high-capacity, ultra‑low‑latency data communication is needed to transport data from edge to core and back, CSPs have an opportunity to service the energy sector with innovative 5G offerings.
Make it happen with Dell Technologies
Dell Technologies is in a unique position to help both OEMs and CSPs make the transition. We are committed to facilitating innovation and collaboration between both sectors to show how 5G networks and data-driven power grids can combine IT agility and OT reliability to realize grid modernization and sustainable energy. See what we’re doing to make a difference with Rogers Business.
We’re bringing to market a range of use cases from intelligent metering to connected workers, digital substations and more that shift in this direction. And we’re excited to participate in a movement that can have tremendous impact, not just on the energy industry or CSPs, but also the end customers they serve and, ultimately, the planet.
Read our latest eBook and view our energy webpage to learn more about exciting advancements in energy.
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 S&P Global Commodity Insights, Global energy demand to grow 47% by 2050, with oil still top source: U.S. EIA, October 2021.
 IEA, Global Energy Reviews 2021: Renewables, 2021.
 IRENA press release, Fast-Track Energy Transitions to Win the Race to Zero, March 2021.