How can energy transmission and digitalization accelerate each other

Complementary traits

How can energy transmission and digitalization enhance each other? In the beginning, many people mainly think about making processes more efficient by making everything measurable and automated at scale. Working with “digital twins” so that products can be designed and tested before they are produced, and virtual consumption so that fewer flights are required. At the same time, computers, sensors, networks, and algorithms also require electricity. While the energy efficiency of data centers continues to increase, data processing is also growing exponentially.

The synergy between energy transmission and digitalization lies in a fundamentally different area. Both can facilitate each other because they have complementary qualities. Summarized in a table:

Digitization energy transmission
1. “Anything is possible,” everything is programmable. 1. Social and sustainable ambitions provide purpose and direction.
2. Everything becomes measurable data. 2. The need for measurability.
3. Collaboration is automative and scalable. Organization in ecosystems (inside = outside). collaborative platforms. 3. The need for cooperation. The goals go beyond the particular organization. Joint direction and coordination.
4. Learning strategy, plug and play makes adaptive and fast-moving. 4. You need flexibility, try and learn.
5. Empowers new business models and value chains. 5. It requires new business models, new forms of value creation.

give direction

Digitalization makes more and more possible and the world around us becomes “programmable”. Business operations and value chains can be flexibly organized. This can change existing markets and create entirely new ones. But for many organizations, digitization in and of itself does not have a clear goal. Of course, digitization can bring significant cost savings. Many companies are still taking this step online during COVID to be able to continue serving customers. An important driver behind digitization is the question of the ‘customer’ asking for it. But transforming their own business from seeing a new market in the future, is a step too far for most organizations.

Many digital promises, such as organizing the value chain completely differently and innovating in ecosystems, have been an abstraction for many companies. That’s why they preferred to wait or take small steps.

The energy shift changes that. For the first time in a long time, all organizations are forced to think through all of their operations; about the reason for their existence; about what kind of organization they want to be and what role they want to play in a (better) world; Their relationship to the planet, people and profit. Exciting and uncertain at the same time: what if it is no longer just a profit at all costs? What if it’s not about the winner anymore? Takes Everything goes but the winner Involved All’?

The energy shift brings skepticism, but at the same time many employees seem to be very motivated to contribute to a better world. As well as some senior executives. Consider Dick Pullman’s “search” for a new role for Unilever and Elon Musk who, together with Tesla, gave a decisive impetus to the development of electric cars. Moon shots have become “exciting” and appealing to the imagination.

To make it measurable

The energy transition creates a need for measurability: to make goals tangible and to monitor and adjust progress. Not only in terms of costs and profits. For example, new measurement methods and standards should be developed, for example, nitrogen and carbon dioxide2emissions that provide a broader view of sustainability. New and different indicators must be developed to make the sustainable goals tangible. For example, the concept of multiple value creation is increasing and more and more governments are working with the concept of “widespread prosperity”. Digitization will help to make it quantifiable and quantifiable, to find new patterns and connections and thus to have better control over the transition.

Large scale cooperation

Sustainability goals can have far-reaching consequences for organizations. Many goals can only be achieved through cooperation or coordination of activities between different organizations, whether in new and diverse groups or not, across the boundaries of their industry and across the boundaries of the company-government-citizen/consumer. Anyone who wants to reuse raw materials will have to deal with the entire production chain including after sale† In short, to the extent that organizations have not yet done so, they will have to think more about their role in relation to other organizations and their clients.

Thinking about ecosystems and working together at a higher level than one’s organization has been commonplace in the IT world for years, and collaborations have been happening there for decades around technology platforms, a method that is increasingly being imitated in all kinds of sectors due to digitalisation. On the platform, multiple parties use the same common technology foundation and associated system of agreements. Data exchange makes it possible to collaborate more easily and on a larger scale, to make connections and automate processes. I wrote on my own blog that the energy transition could also benefit from this.

Learn and adapt

The energy transition involves significant uncertainties for enterprises: it is unclear what the future will look like, and what new revenue and organizational models will be. Digital systems provide flexibility and can be easily changed and adapted based on feedback.

A balance can be sought between flexibility and stability, with some components acting as pillars (“platform”). For example, it is possible to try out new possibilities if these are applications, while the underlying technology does not have to change significantly. Flexibility and resilience are at the core of digitization and the transformation that digitization can bring.

New business models

Moreover, digitization is making new business models possible. For example, we see the growth of “as a service” where customers pay to use a product without owning it. Customer data has also become an important source of income for lower rates or even free offers. Blockchain technology enables pricing of the use and production of energy or other materials in networks in new ways.

Some blockchains impose taxes and automatically redistribute revenue among participants. Thus, digitization can help enable new revenue models, cost adjustments and appropriate revenue redistribution for a more sustainable economy. In this regard too, digitization and energy transmission can mutually reinforce each other.


The energy transition can begin a movement in which organizations begin to think more strategically about their future and their relationship to other organizations, customers, and the planet. With the complexity and uncertainty that comes with it, digitization can provide the tools. Finally, it is no longer about digitizing everything or automating everything (making it more efficient, maximizing profits), but to achieve social goals, the Earth is more beautiful.

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