The use of digital and IT solutions has been an important - though less talked about - factor for the success of many decarbonization efforts worldwide. Given that enhanced efficiencies in operations and energy consumption alone can significantly drive down CO2 emissions in industrial, agricultural and domestic sectors, the importance of digital for decarbonization should not come as a surprise.
The contribution of digital to decarbonization is vast, diverse, and touches a wide range of sectors and applications. It utilizes many different sets of digital tools - from simple databases, to sophisticated VR/AR, to highly complex AI/ML/big data platforms.
Use of digital is perhaps one of the most potent avenues for decarbonization in the short and medium term. As many of the applications are wrap-arounds for the existing infrastructure and processes, and as many of them can quickly identify inefficiencies and carbon emissions, expect significant funding and investments to happen in this sector during the 2020-2030 period.
Digital technologies for decarbonization is a rapidly evolving field, with continuous innovations that utilize many digital tools and concepts. While some applications of digital can be expected to stabilize during the 2020-2025 period (especially monitoring and control applications), this sector will continuously have many other disruptive innovations for a large part of the 2020-2030 period and even beyond.
The main disadvantages for use of digital tools revolve around lack of awareness for many end use sectors, and the difficulties that many innovative but small solution developers face in accessing key end use segments for pilots and business development.
For the 2020-2030 period, while the scope of innovations in the use of digital for decarbonization will be vast, expect significant focus on grid optimization, demand response, systems, IT use for carbon credit and carbon offset markets, for building energy efficiency, for preventing GHG leaks from select industries such as oil & gas, and monitoring of forest and other large natural carbon sinks.
Almost every industrial activity, in every country and region, can use digital to drive efficiencies, streamline operations and reduce GHG emissions.
Digital technology could help reduce the world’s carbon emissions by about 17%, according to a report from the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations body.
That would be almost 9 billion tons of CO2 emissions equivalent per annum. Impressive.
Consumes 95.45 terawatt-hours annually
Goal of Green Digital Finance Alliance
Opines a Schneider Electric executive
Reduced clean energy power generation investment, 2020-2050, resulting from every 1% of demand-side efficiency.
Reduction in time for new parts design by BAE Systems
According to an estimate by IDC
Global market size for digitalisation of energy distribution and retail