According to the International Energy Agency’s Energy Efficiency Report 2017, energy efficiency is one of the keys to promoting global energy system transformation and alleviating environmental problems caused by energy consumption. In today’s turbulent and fast-changing times, digitalisation is a game changer in providing the energy sector with critical added value. The digitalisation of the energy sector, in fact, has the power to boost European competitiveness and innovation, fulfil the European Green Deal's commitments to sustainability, and lead the fight against the effects of global warming.
The power of digitalisation to improve sustainability
When we talk about the “digitalisation” of the energy sector, we mean the integration of IT in how energy is produced, distributed, and consumed, resulting in large amounts of data, rapid progress, and connectivity. Digitalisation is a critical enabler of environmental sustainability. It provides more efficient services to end users, improves the quality of facilities and infrastructure, and serves as a resource for more mindful energy consumption. Indeed, the potential offered by IT tools can increase energy efficiency by performing three tasks:
- Gathering data
- Analyse data
- Use the processed information to change the physical environment by recommending energy-saving actions.
Digital technologies have the potential to reduce global CO2 emissions by 20% by 2030, facilitating the implementation of the European Green Deal and contributing to the Paris Agreement. In Belgium alone, that would mean a CO2 emission reduction of 10%. To capitalise on this, digital and sustainability should work in tandem. Incorporating digital tools could help support the energy sector's growth and transformation while lowering emissions, resource consumption, and costs throughout the value chain. To this end, IT tools like MeetZero can connect digitalisation’s power to promote efficiency. The tool’s primary asset is to incorporate digital-enabling technologies that make an integrated framework capable of providing certifiable and secure empirical data (tokenisation), improving decarbonisation, and promoting emissions reduction.
In all energy end-use sectors, digital technologies are already widely used. An important example is the building sector. More and more residential and commercial buildings harness digitalisation's power to manage energy intelligently, contributing to increased energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the built environment. A concrete example of an initiative in this matter is the EU-funded Build Up platform that has been launched to foster energy efficiency in buildings and support their decarbonisation. The Leopold district in Brussels was used as a case study to analyse, define, and catalogue building types and components in a database. In this way, retrofitting scenarios are created, which make it possible to quantify the increase in energy efficiency depending on the retrofitting measure adopted. This shows that by combining IT Infrastructure in buildings, Europe’s building stock will progress towards decarbonisation, driving the energy transition and building stock transformation forward.
One way to ensure a new energy infrastructure for Europe while minimising energy loss is to transform our production and consumption systems, massively scaling up the integration of smart solutions and digital tools in the energy sector to promote sustainability efficiently. The digital transformation of the energy sector would allow affordable and green energy, increased productivity and competitiveness, and improved quality and efficiency. These concepts can be achieved by recognising that digitalising, decarbonising, and reducing energy are steps toward reducing emissions, reaching the ambitious targets set by the Commission, and positively impacting individual well-being and quality of life.
If you are interested in learning more about the contribution of digitalisation in promoting energy efficiency, read the full report here.