Solutions to global warming. Mission flexibility.

The Climate Emergency requires an ever-increasing use of renewable energy resources. Enel X’s flexible solutions make this possible.

Published on 14 November 2019

Tackling global warming with flexibility and sustainability

Melting glaciers, coastal erosion, extreme phenomena like drought, fire, flooding and rising water. The impacts of human-induced Global Warming are becoming visible to all. Carbon dioxide emissions, caused by pollution and predominantly responsible for the greenhouse effect, have caused the average temperature to reach nearly 1 degree (°C) above pre-industrial levels. If action is not taken quickly, we risk a domino effect. An increase of two degrees would lead to an unending spiral of melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and a further increase in extreme climate behaviour with dramatic consequences for humankind: the rise in the average temperature would increase the global demand for energy, and the consequent surge in consumption would add to the level of polluting emissions. This would amplify the climate emergency. And this is without considering the serious threat that such a scenario would pose to the regular flow of the energy supply.

The Paris Agreement

Little time is left to save the Earth. According to the latest reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC, the world’s most authoritative scientific climate research body, the average temperature will have risen above 1.5 degrees by 2030. This level is alarming, especially considering that the 2015 Paris Agreement required governments to control greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent temperature from rising to 2 degrees by 2050, and to endeavour to lower it to 1.5 degrees. The IPCC report warns that, in order to meet this target, it is essential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 (compared to levels from 10 years ago), and by 100% by 2050.

The path to sustainability

The Paris Agreement, together with the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, all offer a road map for sustainable, resilient development. They also advocate reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and call for the swift replacement of energy produced by fossil fuel (coal, petroleum, gas) with energy from renewable sources, in particular solar and wind. Our Group has been undertaking this strategy for some time now, integrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our corporate business model, and driving its growth across three pillars. They are: electrification, development of renewables and digitalisation, starting with distribution grids and electrical power stations.

Key word: flexibility

Thanks to digitalisation, Enel X is able to guarantee the energy system maximum flexibility. This is in terms of both demand and offer, which thereby support an ever-increasing spread of renewables. The integrated use of smart grids, smart meters, Big Data, sensors, the Internet of Things, lithium ion batteries and management systems like Demand Response (DR), makes it possible to foresee the daily production of energy even from unpredictable sources, like solar and wind. Additionally, these systems allow to more easily estimate energy needs, thereby balancing demand and offer, and making the entire process smoother.

Through our e-Industries business line, we offer large-scale industrial and commercial clients a range of flexible and integrated solutions for optimal energy management. These solutions not only offer the opportunity for cost saving (e.g., through our demand side management system), but also to transform energy from a cost to profit by becoming active players in the energy market. This is through programmes like Demand Response (DR) or the wholescale management of services related to the sale and acquisition of energy.

The example of Demand Response

Demand Response, in particular, is a valuable resource: both from the perspective of the offer and demand. The former tackles the growing need for energy worldwide due to global warming. It also offers a solution to the increasing industrialisation of so-called “developing” nations. This provides improved management of energy loads used by businesses, protecting the latter from possible inefficiencies linked to extreme and unpredictable climate events. Such programmes reward commercial and industrial consumers for their flexibility, i.e. the willingness to temporarily reduce their energy consumption at the request of the grid operator or the demand aggregators managing the supply, such as Enel X.

The mechanism is simple: when energy demand exceeds the available quantity, the operator or utility dispatches a request for a temporary load reduction to all businesses participating in the DR programme. By so doing, the demand can be satisfied without having to increase energy production and pollution. At the same time grid stability is ensured and the DR business participant is rewarded with profit and reduced costs. Not only is the business rewarded for its flexibility, but it can also adjust its demand according to energy prices. By the same token, it can avoid spending on rapid action solutions, such as the use of electrical generators to meet emergencies.

The benefits of this type of programme extend along the entire energy ecosystem: on the one hand it avoids blackouts; on the other, by limiting both demand and price peaks, it curbs utility bill spending.

This is just one example of how our solutions can help businesses become more flexible and competitive. Not only that, decarbonisation will also enable them to tackle the challenges of climate change.

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