Huawei hosted a webinar comprising an expert panel of a cross section of leaders to discuss sustainability in the energy sector. The speakers included Annika Hedberg, Head of Sustainable Prosperity for Europe Programme, European Policy Centre (EPC), Professor Robert Lee, Professor of Law, University of Birmingham, Jürgen Tzschoppe, Executive Vice President International Power, Statkraft and Dr René Arnold, Vice President Public Affairs Strategy, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. The panel discussed that while the proliferation of new digital devices, interconnected high-speed networks, data storage centers, and electric vehicles in our lives have increased the demand for power exponentially, the world also needs to acknowledge that new ICT technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), improved data analytics, energy grids, new methods for delivering and managing energy storage and delivery can in fact make energy systems around the world cleaner, more efficient and lead to significant productivity gains. Furthermore, the panel agreed that a system of comprehensive solutions would be critical to achieve carbon emission targets.
Speaking on how energy transformation can help fight climate change, Annika Hedberg, Head of Sustainable Prosperity for Europe Programme, European Policy Centre (EPC) said, “The pandemic has most definitely had a huge impact on how businesses operate, leading to a temporary downturn of fossil fuels consumption and carbon emissions. But there is also a huge risk. If we do not use the crisis in locking down some key strategies in fighting climate change, we will come out of this period, emitting even more greenhouse gases. The good news is that we already have some fantastic ICT solutions in place – AI, internet of things (IoT), blockchain that can help transform the sector while protecting our ecosystem.”
Professor Robert Lee, Professor of Law, University of Birmingham touched upon the need to talk about the social responsibility regarding energy consumption.
“ICT is a wonderfully innovative sector, but it is as important to use the innovations responsibly. We have already seen how ICT has helped substitute travel in a post pandemic world. Dematerialization where we use innovative technologies to consume less materials, breakthroughs in energy storage and management all have vast potential to bring more sustainability. In the end though, it is not only about innovative technologies but sustainable consumption that is as important – i.e. what you and I can do. Behavioral change lays at the heart of achieving our net zero goals,” he said.
Jürgen Tzschoppe, Executive Vice President International Power, Statkraft addressed the value of application of renewable energy and said, “New electricity will come from renewables. This is not a one-way road, and we will reverse the trend and fight back climate change. In fact, unprecedented technology changes in the renewables sector have made solar and wind power two of the most economically viable powers to produce today. Technology has helped on two levels – in making production cheaper, smarter and of less risk to people and in running and managing the plant and/or system.”
Dr René Arnold, Vice President Public Affairs Strategy, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. busted the myth that energy consumption is particularly high in the ICT industry. While acknowledging that the increase in data centers and wireless sites has led to an increase in energy demand, Dr. René highlighted the importance of energy digitalization to increase efficiency and reduce high operation and maintenance costs. He said, “There is no denying that the explosive acceleration into everything digital is creating more energy hungry devices and applications but at the crux of it, it’s about how we use digital technologies to our advantage to foster economic progress and growth, while meeting sustainability targets. Leveraging the potential of ICT to transform the sector is huge and we at Huawei are committed towards this end to create an overall positive impact for industry and our planet.”