Complex Made Simple

Renewable energy to drive industries

“40 per cent of future supply must come from zero-emission technologies”

Atique Naqvi, Davos

Far from being a romantic dream, renewables are central to meeting the energy demands that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring.

Clean energy now accounts for more than half of all new energy supply, said Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency, Paris. The bulk of new installations – more than two-thirds – come from emerging countries, he added. “To meet climate change and growth targets, around 40 per cent of future energy supply must come from zero-emission technologies.”

Hiroaki Nakanishi, Chairman and CEO, Hitachi, Japan, and the Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016, said the challenge has moved from having more renewable energy to having better energy systems. There are distributional challenges that come with the distance between generation sites of wind and solar energy, and the load centres, he said, stressing that “a more systematic approach is required to integrate renewable energy sources into an overall Smart grid.”

“More renewable energy means more investments in electric grids to manage loads and demands,” said Ignacio Sánchez Galán, Chairman and CEO of Spanish electricity firm Iberdrola.

Over the next 25 years, energy demand will increase by more than 80 per cent globally, he added. As such, huge investments are required across all energy technologies as well as electric grids and distribution systems. There is no silver-bullet solution.

China will play a leading role in this transformation towards green and renewable energy, said Eric Xin Luo, chief executive of Shunfeng International Clean Energy from China. “The country has set an ambitious target that 25 per cent of all energy production from renewable sources,” he said. In the meantime, the country is already a leading exporter of clean-energy technology – for instance, more than 60 per cent of the world’s solar panels are manufactured in China.