The energy transition is not limited to the phasing out of coal power plants and the development of clean energies. The biggest factor that distinguishes the course of the energy transition from earlier consciousness in the 21st century is the urgency of protecting the planet from the threat it has ever faced. The incalculable increase in damage to planet earth, such as the melting of polar glaciers, sea level rise or desertification due to the global climate crisis, is a major driver of the energy transition. During the COP21 negotiations in Paris in December 2015, the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius till the end of the 21st century was determined and an international agreement was signed. The main purpose was the energy transition in order to reach the target in the Paris agreement.
What is Energy Transition?
The energy transition describes the transition from fossil-based energy-based production and consumption systems to a limited carbon emission generating energy mix based on renewable energy sources. Reducing emissions in the energy transition, which concerns the whole system as a paradigm shift, requires knowing where they come from. Electrification, which makes sectors such as transportation, which are important contributors to decarbonization, cleaner and the digitization of electricity grids provide benefits for the economy and society.
The development of renewable energies is at the heart of the energy transition, and solar and wind power have emerged as advanced technologies recently. A paradigm shift is taking place with the phasing-outs of coal power plants and the development of clean energy systems. Energy storage technologies are decisive to compensate for the discontinuous nature of resources such as solar and wind.
Renewable Energy Resources in the Energy Transition
Renewable energy sources, which are the cornerstones of the energy transition, have become very important with their abundance as well as electricity production without emitting greenhouse gases. Along with the rapid development of new technologies and increasing competition, renewable energy sources are of vital importance in the energy transition.
According to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the cost of generating electricity from solar energy has decreased by 82% in the last decade. Wind energy systems have also achieved spectacular growth with increasing productivity and decreasing costs as renewable energy sources that are making progress.
Decarbonization | Energy Transition
In the energy transition, decarbonization should not be approached as simply stopping dependency on fossil fuels. The transition from fossil fuels to green energy can be characterized as a shift to a scenario that does not yet have a plannable structure, rather than a plannable energy production model. It is a process including difficulties such as power outages arising from technical and infrastructural problems, instability of electricity networks.
Finding a way to manage day-to-day changes with sudden shifts in supply and demand is a major challenge in transition. There is an incompatibility between the production and consumption of wind and solar energy due to climatic conditions. Energy storage systems must be strengthened in this process to adjust distribution to demand. In the transition period, coal must be replaced by a less polluting and plannable power source. Natural gas is promising as an efficient alternative in the transition period. In terms of emissions, the amount of carbon dioxide can be reduced by up to half for the same amount of electricity produced as coal. In the energy transition process, natural gas guarantees optimum performance levels as a solution to the interruptions in energy consumption, up to the combination of renewable resources.
Digitalization of Energy | Digital Transformation
The energy transition covers the entire electricity system, and digitization, which transforms the generation, distribution and consumption of energy, is possible to be risky during the transition. The digitalization of energy means that automated management adapts to the transformation.
Consumers also play a new role in the digitalization of energy that started in power plants. The role of customers as “producing consumers” will help in reducing emissions. The energy transition goes beyond simple clean electricity generation. It is a major transformation process involving producers and consumers.