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A Better Grid, a Better Planet

In this posted BNEF market analysis, it is estimated that the global net-zero target will require the annual grid investment to triple from $274 billion in 2022 to $871 billion per year in the decade preceding 2050.

Building and developing an electrical grid that meets the challenges of the net-zero target for the 21st century involves taking a good look at critical factors that impact the energy trilemma. The energy industry is facing new and complex challenges: the levels of power consumption, coupled with the integration of renewable energy sources and the increased urgency around sustainability objectives is propelling us to reimagine our approach, our strategy, and our innovation.

While sustainability dances in the forefront, ultimately it is just one aspect of the World Energy Trilemma Index, in tandem with energy security and energy equity. For the grid of the future to prosperous, these three foundational aspects need to be worked on independently and collectively. Climate change is one of the most pressing issues we are facing today, but also presents a strategic opportunity for GE Vernova. The future of energy will require clean grid related systems and solutions: we need to drive our innovations forward into planning how we can reduce our environmental footprint, how we can develop clean products, and how we can enhance our clean solutions.

To deploy successful solutions and support environmental initiatives, we need to somewhat rethink our business model. With that said, sustainability was and remains a core principle for our industry – I want to make that very clear. But with the changes we’re facing, our approach is also changing.

A reimagined business model for sustainable solutions

The rhetoric question that continuously gets asked is: what does a sustainable business model look like to get where we need to be? The answer is so complex that it triggers a surplus of other questions. We know we need to develop an ecosystem of efficiency, affordability, reliability, and sustainability, but how do we integrate? How do we go to market? Who are our partners?

I’ll present a layer of this: there are incentives in place. But that only brings us to a certain level. One example can be played out as follows: a general consumer acquires some coupons for energy-efficient lightbulbs. That consumer proceeds to buy said energy-efficient lightbulb with the coupons. However, as soon as those coupons expire, the consumer goes back to business as usual and buys a regular lightbulb the next time around. Now, I’m not saying this example is applicable to everyone. Consumers purchase energy-efficient lightbulbs for a variety of positive reasons, and not just because an incentive has been provided. BUT there are scenarios that do follow this method of action.

Clean products and solutions need to become viable, permanent solutions in every sense, independent of incentives. The business model, therefore, needs to make clear the differentiation. This includes:

  • Affordability
  • Better efficiency
  • Faster operation
  • Optimized OEM

All this to say – we need to tap into all advantages. We need to collaborate. We need policies that align with both business and environmental objectives. We need to continuously redefine what the grid of the future looks like.

A clean grid will require the development of interconnections among multiple regions and networks and programs, such as i2X, that aim to enhance the resiliency and reliability of our grid. In the meantime, check out what GE Vernova's Grid Solutions business is doing to advance the future of energy here.

About the Author

Dr. Mital Kanabar is the Senior Director of Innovation at GE Vernova’s Grid Solutions’ Grid Automation business in Toronto, Canada. He has more than 15 years of power industry R&D experience, holds more than 20 international patent applications, and has published more than 50 articles. Mital is also serves as a Chair and Vice-Chair of three Working Groups at the IEEE PES Power System Relaying Committee. Mital focuses on customer-centric innovations and collaboration to accelerate Technology Readiness Levels and validate Cost-Benefit Analysis. He has led R&D efforts in digital substation and software systems, renewables integration algorithms, synchrophasor applications, distributed energy resources, and microgrids. He holds a Ph.D. from Western University and degrees in electrical engineering from Sardar Patel University and the Indian Institute of Technology.

Profile Photo of Mital Kanabar