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Automation: The Key to Efficient Energy Production, Use, and Storage

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Many countries are promoting renewable energy sources, encouraging sustainable transportation, and adopting innovative technologies to achieve their energy efficiency goals, mitigate climate change, and contribute to a more sustainable future. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030, with an emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

A multitude of approaches are being used to respond to the global demands for energy efficiency, including:

  • Energy Mix: There is a significant global shift toward renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal.
  • Decentralized and Distributed Generation: Distributed energy resources, including rooftop solar panels, small wind turbines, and community-based projects, are becoming more prevalent.
  • Storage Technology: Advancements in battery technology and other innovative storage solutions like hydro, compressed air energy, and thermal are being explored for various applications.
  • Hydrogen Production: The hydrogen used in refining and chemical processes is typically produced using fossil fuels. Clean hydrogen produced with renewable energy or fossil fuels using carbon capture can contribute to a more sustainable future and greater energy security.
  • Nuclear Energy: This has the potential to be used in decentralized and distributed generation by means of small modular reactors (SMRs).
  • Large-Scale Interconnectors: Multiple projects in Europe, China, North America, India, and Australia are underway to balance supply and demand across regions.

Successful execution of these energy production, storage, and transmission approaches requires the use of proven automation technologies implemented by knowledgeable and skilled automation professionals, including:

  • Smart grid technologies, incorporating digital communication and control technologies to optimize energy distribution.
  • Demand response programs adjusting electricity consumption based on supply conditions.
  • Developing automation strategies and solutions to support the monitoring and control of infrastructure for newer processes such as clean hydrogen production and carbon capture.
  • Calculating carbon intensity (CI) to meet standards such as California’s low carbon fuel standard (LCFS).
  • Recognizing and following industry standards that facilitate interoperability and enhance safety and security throughout the grid.

Energy production that is efficient, sustainable, and safe will depend upon automation technologies and people working together to bring the most creative and innovative solutions to bear. Energy producers and policymakers alike should be focused on preparing our workforce to meet the need for engineers and technicians.

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