The energy sector has been the object of heated debates over the last decades. With the environmental challenges humanity is facing today, it has never been more important to take action and transition towards more efficient energy practices and sustainable ways to satisfy our rising energy demands.
However, in order to achieve the change we are after, the energy sector has to bring new technologies and innovation to the table, which puts tremendous pressure on the cost structures of energy companies and existing infrastructure, hence their reluctance to invest considerable resources in research and development. At the same time, the industry is interlinked with virtually every other industrial sector, some of which are heavily dependant on the energy industry. With the economies of some countries relying on certain sectors that are interlinked with the energy industry, it becomes a complex issue that has a socio-political aspect.
Some countries have decided to take the big step towards the change and are already actively transitioning to the future of the energy industry. It is important to point out that this transition refers not only to the adoption of renewable energy sources, but to a wide array of innovative ways to lower carbon emissions, optimize the supply chain, and overall spending in research and development. With that being said, let’s find out what these countries are doing to achieve that.
According to GII 2018, Switzerland has been the global leader in research and development expenditures in the energy industry since 2011 – and it continues to remain on the top of the charts. The country has established a strong network for cooperation between research facilities, energy organisations, educational establishments and businesses, creating the needed link for synergy effects that can become the driving force behind the needed progress in the energy sector.
Being an island, the UK has been thriving on wind power for many years, positioning it on the fourth place in the Global Innovation Index for 2018 created by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Wind farms in the United Kingdom have surpassed the amount of electricity produced by coal plants five years ago, with Ireland even setting new records for wind power production. The capacity of wind farms allows the UK to produce and store substantial amounts of electricity efficiently even over a short period of time, utilizing its unstable climate to its full extent.
As most nordic countries, Iceland is particularly focused on the maximum adoption of renewable energy sources. The country generates the most clean electricity per person on earth, with almost 100% of its energy coming from renewable sources that make the most of its unique landscape. Sweden is on its way to become fully carbon free and has already managed to almost achieve its goal and Denmark aims to be 100% fossil-fuel-free by 2050 by relying heavily on wind power (Source: Go 100%). Last but not least, Norway is covering 98% of its electricity demands through hydropower, positioning it among the countries that are moving towards fossil free electricity production.
China is a controversial example – although the country has a reputation of the biggest pollutor on the planet, it also holds the largest share of investments in research and development in the energy sector, allowing it to achieve astonishing rates of improvement in terms of their negative impact on the environment. Furthermore, the country owns five of the world’s six largest solar-module manufacturing firms, the largest wind-turbine manufacturer, the world’s largest lithium ion manufacturer and the world’s largest electricity utility, additionally to being the world leader in renewable energy generated through wind power (Source: Clickenergy). China is the first country to introduce the Evolutionary Pressurised Reactor (EPR), which is a revolutionary concept to nuclear energy technology. Although nuclear power plants are being vastly criticized for many decades as being extremely dangerous, they still take up a considerable share of the worldwide energy production, especially in some developing countries.
Despite its impressive progress in terms of innovations in the energy sector, China has a long way to go – with the air of its major cities reaching dangerously hazardous levels of pollution, the country has to adopt drastic measures to cope with the increasing.
Costa Rica is an interesting example in our list that is fairly underrated in terms of its innovative approach in terms of energy production and consumption. In 2016, Costa Rica achieved 98% coverage of their energy demands through hydro, geothermal and wind energy sources. The country combines natural sources (e.g. volcanoes) and smart grids, including micro-grids using solar energy as a back-up source of electricity (Source: Knowledge Instead).
Singapore has invested USD 1.5 billion in clean tech R&D, targeting, in particular, optimization of solar PV systems and support structures since 2006 (Source: Wipo Int).
Africa and most particularly Sub-Saharan Africa is primarily focused on biomass, as 90 percent of the population depends on wood fuel and charcoal as energy sources. By adopting a briquetting technology, which combines charcoal dust (80 percent) with soil (20 percent), Kenya has managed to considerably reduce the demand for wood fuel, which produces considerable amount of harmful emissions (Source: Wipo Int).
Germany has been falling behind in the race towards energy innovation despite their rapid adoption of renewables. The problems in the country with the highest electricity cost still persist due to the fact that they are covering a big portion of their energy demands through imports. With the high intensity of their industrial sector, it is no surprise that the cost has surpassed every other country in the world.
A licensed utility provider based in Germany is planning to change this reality. LCG Energy has over 10 years of market experience and is currently developing a full-fledged energy ecosystem that offers its users a wide array of energy-related services through a blockchain-based platform known as the LCG platform. The company is also working on the integration of Smart Meters with blockchain technology that has allowed LCG Energy to reach an average energy optimization of 20% per customer. With blockchain integration, the scope of functionalities and the overall efficiency of smart meters will be brought to the next level.
Continued investments in energy innovations, as well as supportive political measures are crucial if we want to reduce our impact on the environment and build a sustainable future for our planet. Some countries are already setting the bar for all others to catch up – it is only a matter of time before everyone is on the same page and fully committed to a fossil-free future.
Learn more about LCG Energy, their blockchain initiative and upcoming ICO on https://lcg-group.de/