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Collaborative, radical innovation is what’s needed to create a world that runs on green energy

By David Bould, Head of UK and Ireland Ventures and Open Innovation

Ørsted’s vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy.

If we want to truly achieve that and deliver green, cheap, and secure energy for everyone – we need to radically transform the entire energy system.

That means we must accelerate radical innovation now – so we can proactively build the sustainable green energy system of the future.

We’re working to do just that at Ørsted, but we know we can’t do it alone.

We’re collaborating with start-ups, academia, related industries, and the investment community to spark the best ideas for how to speed-up the renewable energy build-out and rapidly deliver it.

Our green transformation

Over the last decade, we’ve accomplished our own green transformation. We’ve gone from being one of the most fossil-fuel intensive energy companies in Europe, to being a global leader in offshore wind and one of the world’s most sustainable companies.

Offshore wind is its own innovation success story – most clearly shown by the cost reduction and upscaling journey that the sector has been on, and which we’ve spearheaded.

But offshore wind is only one piece of the green transition puzzle.

If we want to imagine a future where 100% of our energy comes from renewable sources, we need to rapidly accelerate innovation around energy system integration to deliver green energy solutions.

Wanted: Innovative solutions

Output from renewables is variable, but our current energy system is not built for that. So, we really need to rethink the whole energy system.

Some of the biggest challenges we’re facing include:

  • How do we make sure that we can get all the variable power generation onto the grid – and balance supply and demand?

  • How can we update our old-fashioned grid designed for a completely different generation system?

  • How can we use data about generation, transmission, and demand to make our grids smarter?

  • How do we deliver hard-to-abate decarbonisation? How do we incorporate Power-to-X into the larger system?

  • As we roll out renewables as quickly possible to tackle climate change, how can we also make sure we’re having a positive impact on the environment and biodiversity?

  • Are there ways that we can monitor, measure, and understand the natural environment more effectively?

  • In terms of social sustainability, we know that we are creating good jobs and doing skills development. But can we do even more? Can we a better job supporting the local communities where we work and operate?

Collaboration is key

As renewable industry leaders, we’re confident that we can find solutions to these challenges. But we also know that we can’t do it alone.

In order to accelerate the next generation of renewable innovation, we need to collaborate with makers, supporters, and early adopters.

We are doing that by working with academia, start-ups, businesses in adjacent sectors and the investment community so we can work at greater speed, across a greater range of concepts, and with a greater range of skills to tackle these challenges.

We operate Innovation Hubs in several of our key markets, such as in the US and the Netherlands, with more to come. These hubs ensure that we have people on the ground who are able to build new relationships and partnerships.

Track record of fruitful partnerships

We have a long track record of collaboration with the academic world, cutting-edge start-ups, and advanced researchers.

Here in the UK, we’ve worked with Masters and PhD students enrolled in the Durham Energy Institute (DEI) at Durham University for over a decade on projects and research that have positively impacted the renewable energy industry’s growth.

We also work with start-ups and early-stage companies. For instance, we’ve

entered into a strategic partnership and invested with Spoor, a Norwegian start-up that uses a specially designed artificial intelligence system to monitor and track birdlife near wind power installations, particularly offshore.

Our hope is that the new technology will help Ørsted, and the broader industry, get a better understanding of how birds behave around wind turbines – which will allow for better spatial planning of wind farms and improved biodiversity in the long run.

We’ve also teamed up with the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) on their North Sea 3D project. They are using artificial intelligence and 3D imaging to map the growth of marine life on wind farms. This will allow us to quantify and understand the positive biodiversity impacts associated with offshore wind infrastructure more accurately.

Those are just a few of the hundreds of external partnerships we are involved in across the globe that help us drive not only incremental changes to keep our core business competitive, but also potentially game-changing, radical innovation.

Collaborative, radical innovation is what we need

On the road to net-zero, we’ve come a long way. But in many ways, we’re all just getting started.

To truly fight the climate crisis, what we need most now is speed and scale in the renewable energy build-out, but it must be done in a sustainable way that also generates real, lasting positive impacts on nature and society.

We need to work collaboratively and focus our attention on the radical end of the innovation spectrum if we are to truly deliver a world that runs entirely on green energy.

David Bould, Ørsted’s Head of UK and Ireland Ventures and Open Innovation, will be at RenewableUK’s Global Offshore Wind 2023 conference. Come by Ørsted’s Stand J20 at 2pm on 14 June to hear him speak about how innovation can help us create a world that runs entirely on green energy.



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