Digitalisation has become an integral part of every industry – with the pace of adoption having increased substantially during the Covid-19 pandemic. The energy and utilities sector has been one of the frontrunners in adopting new technologies as it has looked to cope with rising demand and market volatility by boosting efficiencies and shifting to smarter solutions.

The pandemic – coupled with an increased focus on sustainability – has further pushed industry players to innovate: a recent report by Accenture found that 59 per cent of utility executives reported that the pace of digital transformation for their organisation is accelerating. Meanwhile 99 per cent of utility executives said the pandemic created an unprecedented stress test for their organisations – primarily their technology architecture.

Major regional energy players have also invested heavily in integrating technology into their operations. Initiatives by ADNOC include its artificial intelligence (AI) and big data-driven ‘Panorama Digital Command Centre’, its AI and digital subsurface ‘Thamama Centre of Excellence’, the deployment of digital drilling technologies, the use of block chain for hydrocarbon accounting and the adoption of computer vision technologies and big data modelling tools for value chain optimisation. In April, Dubai’s ENOC Group announced plans to invest Dhs250m of its overall 2021 expenditure towards further promoting its digital transformation strategy.

All the latest technologies that will shape the digital transformation of the energy and utility sectors will be showcased at GITEX Global, to be held from October 17-21, 2021 in Dubai World Trade Centre. The event will feature virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, drones, robotics, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things – and their application in various industry sectors.

Charging ahead

Several major trends are redefining the energy landscape for the future. Renewables currently account for over 20 per cent of the electricity mix in Europe and the US, with that figure anticipated to reach 33 per cent by 2025, surpassing the coal-fired generation. Renewables will account for 95 per cent of the net increase in global power capacity through 2025, according to OECD.

“New competitive forces will reshape the electricity value chain. Why? Because utilities are not alone in their pursuit of these new opportunities. Oil majors’ significant investments in renewables and storage will increase,” the Accenture report states. “New, cloud-native startups will threaten incumbents with Amazon-like customer-centric business models.”

Looking to the future, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that global energy demand in 2050 will be around 8 per cent lower than present while servicing an economy twice as large with two billion more people. To achieve this, annual improvements in energy intensity will need to triple over the next decade.

“As energy efficiency is one of the greatest actions required to achieve climate targets, digitalisation’s role will be vital by expanding the scope and scale of energy efficiency through electrification, fuel switching and behavioural change,” it states.

At the policy design stage, digital tools can provide access to more granular and real-time data, and advanced analytics and modelling capabilities can help predict the impact and cost-effectiveness of programmes. During programme implementation, digitalisation can be an effective communication tool to enable more user-centred policies. At the same time, digital tools allow for data to be produced at a much higher frequency and larger scale than before, allowing for a more continuous approach to evaluation, the IEA explains.

To learn more about the tools and technologies driving the digitalisation of the energy and utilities industry – both regionally and globally, visit GITEX Global from October 17-21, 2021.





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