The renewable energy transition represents one of the leading efforts on the global endeavors towards fighting climate change. In fact, the emissions reduction and heat decarbonization processes cannot be understood without a focus on energy production and use, as the energy sector represents a key contributor in greenhouse gas emissions.
As such, from our experience in devising thermal energy solutions and engineering, we’re going to have a look at two current movements that are leading the hunt for smart and efficient energy technologies.
Let’s see what strategies can be adopted in moving away from fossil fuel, carbon-intensive processes and into reliable, sustainable and economically-viable renewable energy transition models.
Renewable energy transition: the vision and the challenges
The renewable energy transition stands at the center of a wider transformation: the quest for fighting climate change.
This effort is aligning the actions of governmental institutions and private actors in an effort to find environmentally-friendly energy sources, with an ever-growing citizen consensus: research carried out in 2023 showed 93.5% of EU citizens agreed with the statement “EU must ensure clean energy”.
As regulations such as the European Green Deal generate new limitations, companies are looking for answers that comply with new regulations and remain attainable from an economic point of view. At the same time, the vision for the renewable energy transition incorporates the need for job creation, citizen wellness and a reduction of economic inequalities as a core goal.
With this in mind and in order to find a reliable solution for the much sought-after renewable energy transition, it’s also important to acknowledge the current challenges faced by this prospect: its current unreliability or intermittency. While renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind generation solutions are being successfully incorporated into smart grids, buildings and microgrids, some of these renewable sources can still be described as systems with a high randomness and low predictability.
Fortunately, there are two key advancements that are addressing this challenge and positioning themselves as providing a solution. Let’s see them.
The role of communication technologies and smart energy solutions in the renewable energy transition
The first solution to the challenge is being brought along by the incorporation of smart energy solutions, that is, the inclusion of advanced communication and information technologies into the management of renewable energy sources and heat decarbonization goals.
This is especially true as decentralized energy production (such as district heating and cooling) takes the lead in the efforts towards emissions reduction.
Some examples of this include:
- Artificial intelligence in the shape of sequence-to-sequence learning, federated learning or computer vision are facilitating the solving of complex problems. This includes inspection and monitoring operations as well as anomaly detections, which can be performed automatically and more precisely thanks to AI systems.
The role of AI in optimizing renewable energy sources will translate into stabilizing power supplies, helping address the more intense complexity of renewable energy systems by generating demand forecasting and management.
- Quantum computing is able to solve design and operation issues
- Next-generation communication technologies, including 5G, facilitate coordination and communications in complex digital environments and energy systems such as the ones that involve renewable energies
- The metaverse will also play a role in moving certain energy-consuming activities towards the digital universe
The importance of heating and cooling technologies in the renewable energy transition
Achieving sustainable heating and cooling technologies remains a key piece in the puzzle of global decarbonization efforts.
As heating accounts for around half of the total energy consumption, the effort for achieving the renewable energy transition must include the hunt for solutions to decarbonize it.
Today, the most promising structure for heat decarbonization and emissions reduction lies in district heating solutions. Paired with efficient industrial heat pumps, 5th generation district heating allows for the incorporation of sustainable energy sources. This is because these systems are able to work with temperatures that are close to ground temperatures (at around 50Cº), contrary to previous models, which relied on delivering hot water at temperatures of around 80Cº. This is particularly true in the case of advanced industrial heat pumps today, able to enhance low-grade heat to substantial heat
Another key benefit of 5th generation district heating systems is their capacity to incorporate systems that minimize heat losses, such as thermal storage tanks. This provides a solution to the current challenge of renewable energy sources and their intermittence
Additionally, the decentralized approach to heating that district heating provides also ensures unnecessary energy production and energy waste are minimized, generating circular models where energy ‘prosumers’ are leveraged to achieve maximum efficiency.
In fact, industrial heat pumps represent an outstanding example of energy efficiency. This is seen plainly when looking at their coefficient of performance values, which compares the amount of energy needed to produce heating.
In this case, well-adjusted industrial heat pumps reach efficiencies of between 3 to 6 units, meaning they provide at least 3 units of energy compared to the amount of energy they consume.
All in all, district heating stands out as the key model to address the impending need to consider how to pick the right energy source for heating, generating a flexible model where every kind of locally-available energy sources can be incorporated.
Here is where the role of experts in heating technologies will remain crucial in the next few years, designing heating efficiency. As debates continue sparking, including the comparison between combined heat and power and heat pumps as valuable energy systems, the quest for increased efficiency and sustainability narrows down and becomes more precise.
At Araner, we offer our two-decade expertise in devising heating technologies to help private and public operators move towards the renewable energy transition.
As such, we provide reliable and efficient alternatives to traditional fossil-fuel systems, solutions which adapt to the needs of each project via tailor-made district heating systems while considering how to meet requirements in terms of emissions reduction and heat decarbonization.
Want to learn more about the leading efforts in the renewable energy transition and what the contribution of 5th generation district heating is today and in the future?
At Araner, we’re committed to help you meet environmental goals in devising sustainable heating systems. Take a look and download our free guide about the current state of District Heating technologies, or get in touch with us and speak directly to our team about your project’s needs and potential towards heat decarbonization.