An energy transition, i.e. a significant change in the energy mix, considered most often in a country, is only relevant if it significantly improves one of the expected performances of energy systems and markets: the cost of energy, its availability, the energy independence of the country in question or the environmental impact.
In the current situation, the world urgently needs to reduce its CO2 emissions for which energy systems are highly contributory: this justifies without any doubt that each country commits, from the current situation of its own, in a transition towards a less emitting CO2 energy mix.
The state of the art of energy technologies, particularly solar and wind, also leads to the opportunity, thanks to them, in certain circumstances, to reduce energy costs. But it cannot be considered that these cost reductions justify a transition as swift and radical as the one we need for environmental reasons.
The transition to less carbon emitting mixes implies the conversion of CO2 emitting systems (coal, oil), which are now the majority in the world, to systems emitting little of very little CO2 amounts (solar, wind, nuclear) or systems simply emitting fewer CO2 (gas). It is not certain that the simple conversion to gas-fired plants is sufficient to achieve the objectives and this type of migration is probably to be considered either as a transition stage or when no alternative is available in the short term.
Compared to the urgent goal today of reducing CO2 emissions, substituting nuclear power for solar-generated electricity is meaningless.
An energy transition is not an isolated episode, limited in time. Technological evolutions, new economic, strategic or environmental constraints will allow or will soon require a new stage of energy transition.
Among these possible vectors of a future need for an energy transition, we can list, mixing at this stage opportunities and needs:
These observations plead for:
We have listed here two major areas of progress, for all countries, for a more successful management of their energy transition.
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Eric Morel is a worldwide recognised expert of energy transition and digitalisation. In the past, he has served as VP Corporate Business Strategy and VP Global Smart Grids and Energy Efficiency at Schneider Electric as well as CEO of Ilevo, a telecommunication start-up. He is a founding member and a former Board member of the Gridwise Alliance, the main professional private/public association dedicated to Smart Energy.