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Towards Zero Carbon with Energy Digitalization

New digital systems and technologies are powering up a clean, green future.

By Yan Jianfeng, Global Brand Director, Huawei Digital Power
WinWin Issue 40

According to a World Meteorological Organization report from December 2020, the global mean temperature from January to October 2020 was around 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This has made the need to tackle climate change more apparent than ever, with UN Secretary-General António Guterres calling for all countries to declare a "climate emergency" at the Climate Ambition Summit.

The only way to carbon neutrality

Today, humanity is experiencing three major trends:

First, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is propelling the move to an intelligent world.

Second, carbon neutrality is accelerating energy transformation. The world will witness the construction of a clean, low-carbon, safe, and efficient energy system.

Third, the integration of new power systems, energy flows, and information flows based on renewable energy is inevitable. Conventional power systems with partial sensing, one-way control, planned operation + automation, and the partial use of digital technologies will eventually be replaced by new power systems that feature full sensing, two-way interaction, intelligent and efficient operations, and pervasive digital and intelligent technologies.

Zero Carbon,Energy Digitalization

In light of the carbon neutrality goal, we need to reverse the rapid growth of energy consumption and CO2 emissions and decouple economic growth from carbon emissions. Becoming low-carbon, electrified, and intelligent is the only way to achieve carbon neutrality, and technological advances are an engine that drives the process.

First, the cost of electricity from renewable energy, such as PV power and wind power, has decreased rapidly since 2018, and is now significantly lower than the cost of fossil fuels. Renewable energy will play a key role in transforming the energy supply structure. It’s estimated that by 2050, renewable energy will account for more than 86% of all energy supply, and installed PV capacity will increase from 750 GW in 2020 to 8,519 GW in 2050, replacing fossil fuels as the main source of electricity and helping realize low-carbon power generation.

Second, on the energy consumption side, electricity consumption will replace traditional fossil fuel consumption. It’s predicted that the consumption of electricity will exceed that of oil by 2050, accounting for 49%, up from 20% in 2017. Green manufacturing, green buildings, and green travel will become major growth engines for electrification. In the industrial and construction sectors, green buildings and low-carbon campuses will become reality through power generation with renewable energy and comprehensive energy efficiency improvements.

Third, with the increasing adoption of renewable energy, the conventionally stable power grid will become unstable. The power grid system will shift from centralized to distributed power generation, and the increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will pose greater challenges to the stability of energy system architecture. Intelligent technologies will be needed for the intelligent coordinated scheduling of power generation, grids, loads, and storage, peak load shaving, making power grids more stable and reliable, improving power consumption efficiency, and reducing power costs.

Huawei will be actively involved in the process of achieving carbon neutrality and carbon peak. Through technological innovation, Huawei will help industries reduce energy consumption and help accelerate energy structure transformation. Our goal is to enable all industries to use stable, clean, and cost-efficient energy.

Zero Carbon,Energy Digitalization

Accelerating power digitalization and building new power systems based on renewable energy

According to the latest forecast by Huawei Institute of Strategic Research, renewable energy will account for more than 50% of all energy by 2030, and EVs will account for more than 50% of all vehicle sales, making EVs a major means of transport. ICT has the potential to help reduce global carbon emissions by 20% by enabling other industries in the next 10 years. To make renewable energy such as PV and wind the main power sources, new power systems will integrate digital and physical systems, enabling data flows to lead and optimize energy and service flows. Data will be used as a key factor of production to streamline information about power generation, power grids, loads, and power storage. The aim is to achieve comprehensive observability, accurate measurability, and high controllability on the power generation side (power plants), form a regulation system that integrates the cloud and edge on the power grid side (power grid companies), and aggregate massive adjustable resources on the power consumption side (users) to support real-time dynamic responses to user needs.

Huawei will continue to innovate and be open to collaboration in digital power, focusing on the following methods:

First, we will continuously integrate leading digital technologies and power electronics technologies and combine energy flows with data flows to use bits to manage watts and drive the energy industry to go digital.

Second, we will develop a clean power system that focuses on generating electricity with alternative energy technologies such as wind, solar, and energy storage. We will integrate power generation, power grids, loads, and power storage with multiple complementary energy sources to transform alternative energy from a source of incremental power to a major source of grid-wide power. This is how we can move away from fossil-fuel energy to clean energy.

Third, on the energy use side, we will drive the electrification of the transportation industry, with a focus on solving problems for consumers such as slow charging, range anxiety, and safety concerns. For the consumer, Huawei will continue to develop converged, simplified, secure, and reliable smart electric solutions that deliver a superior experience. We will also develop charging and battery swap network solutions that integrate PV, power storage, and charging and bring together people, vehicles, charging infrastructure, roads, and the network.

Zero Carbon,Energy Digitalization

Fourth, with the rapid development of the digital world, ICT infrastructure will face greater energy consumption challenges. It’s estimated that by 2025, data centers will have consumed 950 billion kWh of power, accounting for 3% of total power consumption worldwide. Telecom sites will have consumed 660 billion kWh of power, accounting for 2% of worldwide total power consumption. Huawei will build green, efficient, and intelligent ICT infrastructure solutions based on low-carbon sites and green data centers.

Fifth, in a new power system based on alternative energy sources, power storage will be distributed in various scenarios including power generation, power grids, and loads to serve as reservoirs and power grid regulators and stabilizers. Huawei believes in the need to develop intelligent power storage systems that deliver outstanding security and are more cost-effective, plus a cloud-based battery management system (BMS) that intelligently manages batteries throughout their  lifecycle.

Sixth, we will develop energy clouds to provide a comprehensive smart energy service platform that integrates power generation, power grids, loads, and power storage with multiple complementary energy sources. This will realize the intelligent management of scenarios such as wind and solar power generation, power storage, charging, industrial and building energy conservation, site and data center energy conservation, and power distribution networks. Cloud technology can also streamline data relating to power generation, storage, distribution, and consumption to serve energy customers worldwide.

With over 30 years of expertise in digital and power technologies, Huawei can integrate energy flows with information flows through management, control, power storage, and basic power electronics technologies. This will accelerate energy conservation and emissions reduction in numerous industries. To date, Huawei's digital power solutions have been applied in more than 170 countries and regions, serving one third of the world's population.

Achieving green power generation, storage, and consumption, and enabling a zero-carbon smart world

Huawei has taken the initiative to promote intelligent transformation in the power generation industry, leveraging inverters and launching a smart PV solution based on string inverters. This solution digitalizes power plants and transforms inverters into sensors of subarrays, enabling information collection that’s accurate to each string, making intelligent sensing a reality.

In 2021, Huawei enhanced the deep integration of smart PV and new technologies, introducing a fully intelligent, all-scenario solution that integrates PV and power storage. This solution significantly reduces electricity costs, and transforms PV from a backup for the grid to an enhancement of it, making PV a major power source. As of September 30, 2021, Huawei Digital Power products and solutions had helped customers generate 443.5 billion kWh of electricity, save 13.6 billion kWh of electricity, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 210 million tons, equivalent to planting 290 million trees. Huawei's smart PV solutions have been widely adopted in more than 70 countries and regions. In Ningxia and Shandong, China, the world's largest single-site smart PV plants for agriculture and fishery have made great contributions to local environmental protection. On September 30, 2020 and with Huawei's support, the world's largest single-site 2.2 GW PV plant was connected to the grid.

Zero Carbon,Energy Digitalization

In Ningxia, smart PV has revitalized the landscape and local economy by enabling goji berry farming

The value of green power generation is its ability to enable clean energy sites that integrate wind, solar, hydro, and thermal power, and that integrate power generation, power grids, loads, and power storage. Green power also facilitates the construction of demonstration bases that drive transformation to a low-carbon energy mix. For example, green power can ensure a self-sufficient power supply for agricultural production while supplying the grid with excess electricity. This will consolidate the achievements humanity has made in eradicating poverty, boosting agriculture, and revitalizing rural areas. The use of green electricity by numerous industries will usher in a new era of electricity consumption in which the industrial sector can reduce carbon emissions, so that enterprises and environmental protection can develop in tandem. The coordinated development of PV and agriculture, fisheries, and animal husbandry can protect the environment and reverse land desertification, creating both economic and environmental benefits.

While for carriers carbon neutrality an important strategic goal, their energy infrastructure is still a great challenge that needs addressing. Conventionally, carriers' site power facilities are auxiliary products featuring high power consumption and high OPEX. To accelerate carriers' shift to carbon neutrality, Huawei has introduced five digital power target network solutions: simplified site, simplified equipment room, simplified data center, ubiquitous green electricity, and integrated smart energy cloud.

Huawei Smart Power has achieved success in a range of use cases, including zero-carbon power generation (smart PV power storage turns PV from a backup power source into a main power source, introducing green power to numerous industries), zero-carbon homes (enabling a zero-carbon lifestyle and creating a zero-carbon living environment), zero-carbon travel (delivering better user experience and accelerating the electrification of the automotive industry), zero-carbon sites (smart power target networks enabling telecom networks to conserve energy and reduce emissions), zero-carbon data centers (facilitating the sustainable development of a digital world that is green, secure, and smart), zero-carbon campuses (advancing zero-carbon smart campus innovation from green power generation to efficient power consumption). These success stories will eventually create zero-carbon cities and contribute to a zero-carbon planet, accelerating the achievement of carbon neutrality.

Working with partners worldwide to build a robust energy ecosystem

Huawei Digital Power drives the integration of power electronics technologies with IoT, big data, and artificial intelligence, breaking limits in green technology and minimizing power generation costs. This enables each kWh of electricity to support more bits of data traffic on communications networks, and delivers stronger computing power for data centers, further expanding the reach of humanity's green efforts.

Achieving carbon peak and carbon neutrality will require the collective efforts of all industry players. Huawei will remain open and cooperative and work with partners across the industry value chain, industry organizations, and standards organizations.  

Read more about Huawei Digital Power and download our Digital Power 2030 report to learn how the industry and related technologies will unfold in the future.