Energy systems around the world are going through a phase of rapid change. However, the concept of energy transition isn’t new - society has seen many changes associated with energy over time. In the UK, the Industrial Revolution saw a shift from an energy system primarily reliant on traditional biomass and other renewable sources (e.g. wind, water, muscle power) to an industrial system reliant on steam power fuelled by coal. Before the 1950s most energy systems relied on local rather than the global energy networks that are available today.
These transitions have been largely driven by opportunities unlocked by newly available fuels, together with the development of technologies and markets seeking to exploit them. The changes generally built on existing behaviour rather than changing it and took decades to take place.
Smaller scale, decentralised technologies associated with solar, wind, storage, sensors and control systems are developing at a much more rapid pace than larger scale infrastructure. There are also considerable market opportunities associated with the transition, with an estimated 2 trillion dollars a year to be invested globally in the transition to low carbon power, transport, heat and localised, digitally-connected energy systems.
This could allow a transition to smart local energy systems to occur at pace, driving an energy revolution characterised by 4 Ds:
It supports the wider Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s programme on Prospering from the Energy Revolution through its activities in 6 key Themes: