COP28: The Energy Transition Will Not Happen Without Software

GE Vernova CEO scott reese
GE Vernova CEO scott reese

The complexity of the energy transition will require software to play a pivotal role as the world drives towards electrification while simultaneously trying to decarbonize. According to the International Energy Agency, ~770 million people globally are without reliable electricity today and demand is expected to grow by another 50 percent by 2040. Combined with the growth indemand is the increasing complexity of operating a grid when it comes to the variability that renewable energy sources bring when the sun does not shine, or the wind does not blow, in addition to a growing threat of cyberattacks on the world’s critical infrastructure. Digitization of the energy transition is no longer optional. It is compulsory.

As world leaders meet at the Conference of the Parties (“COP28”) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), this year will mark the ‘Global Stocktake’ – a global inventory of where the world stands on climate change progress in relation to the Paris Agreement. Software needs to take center stage in climate discussions with industry leaders, government officials, and investors supporting developed and emerging markets to deliver on their net zero commitments. As COP27 was underway last year, I wrote about why software is key to the energy transition and how the intersection of humans and machines plays an essential role in a three-part formula for reducing the world’s carbon footprint, improving energy security, and growing access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum stated that digital solutions could reduce global emissions by up to 20 percent by 2050 in the three highest-emitting sectors: energy, materials, and mobility. The improvements aredriven by industries using data to make better decisions, using artificial intelligence (AI) to draw real-time insights, analyzing a variety of outcomes to inform that decision-making, and eliminating waste through efficiency gains. Software is required to orchestrate the amount of complexity of managing different energy generation sources on the path to net zero.

Software is already making a difference, but adoption is not happening at the pace and scale required to move the emissions needle, especially in the hard-to-abate sectors. Bringing digital solutions to scale across the world will require partnerships across the private and public sectors to implement digital solutions for decarbonization through clear policy and frameworks. New software tools are becoming crucial for compliance with European regulations. Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directives will also require companies to report with machine-readable text for data tagging and theSecurities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to finish climate disclosure rules later this year.

Ultimately, as the world’s energy needs grow,the role of digitization in driving digital transformation across the energy ecosystem will be a key component in addressing reliability, sustainability, affordability, and security for future generations. There is no doubt that software will play a pivotal role, and I do not see another way to handle the amount of change and complexity of managing a mix of energy generation sources involved with so much of the world’s critical infrastructure. Whether you are an industry leader, a government official, or an investor involved in these discussions, push for change. Push for modernizing the electric grid. Push for digitization. Our future depends on it.

By Scott Reese, CEO of GE Vernova’s Digital business

About GE Vernova

GE Vernova is a planned, purpose-built global energy company that includes Power, Wind, and Electrification segments and is supported by its accelerator businesses of Advanced Research, Consulting Services, and Financial Services. Building on over 130 years of experience tackling the world’s challenges, GE Vernova is uniquely positioned to help lead the energy transition by continuing to electrify the world while simultaneously working to decarbonize it. GE Vernova helps customers power economies and deliver electricity that is vital to health, safety, security, and improved quality of life. GE Vernova is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., with more than 80,000 employees across 100+ countries around the world. GE Vernova’s Digital business is focused on providing a suite of software products and services to customers aiming to accelerate a new era of energy by electrifying and decarbonizing the energy ecosystem through intelligent and efficient data analytics, monitoring, and management.

GE Vernova’s mission is embedded in its name – it retains its legacy, “GE,” as an enduring and hard-earned badge of quality and ingenuity. “Ver” / “verde” signal Earth’s verdant and lush ecosystems. “Nova,” from the Latin “novus,” nods to a new, innovative era of lower carbon energy. Supported by the Company Purpose, The Energy to Change the World, GE Vernova will help deliver a more affordable, reliable, sustainable, and secure energy future. Learn more: GE Vernova and LinkedIn.

[1] https://www.iea.org/commentaries/access-to-electricity-improves-slightly-in-2023-but-still-far-from-the-pace-needed-to-meet-sdg7

[2] https://www.weforum.org/press/2022/05/digital-tech-can-reduce-emissions-by-up-to-20-in-high-emitting-industries/