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If Net Zero is the ‘what’, then what would be the ‘how’?

Jeff Connolly, CEO of Siemens Australia and the Pacific

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Jeff Connolly
Siemens Australia and the Pacific

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There’s been a lot of talk about net zero and carbon neutral lately. On October 26 Australia committed to net zero by 2050 – an announcement that was made during COP26 at Glasgow. This follows a long list of countries, cities and companies making similar commitments. As important as commitments to net zero are, the real test is moving from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’. So how do we do it? How do we get there?

If we want to achieve net zero, I am convinced that convergence is the big picture. What we have seen over the last 30 years in the telecommunication sector – bringing together voice, data and video - needs to apply for future infrastructure in a similar way: energy grids, buildings and industry need to merge into one optimized system. This can only be done with the help of digital technologies, some of them yet to be developed. It's a huge task but I have no doubt that this target is achievable. We can make net zero happen if we take a holistic view including an understanding of the role of industry and infrastructure as well as skilled people. Political leaders can drive the changes by setting goals and visions and even providing funding and favourable public policy settings. 

I strongly believe that flexibility is key for energy networks and digitalization plays an integral role in optimizing the energy value chain and lifecycle of our energy systems. The task at hand is an engineering and technology feat - the likes of which we have never seen before. Finally, all of this can only be achieved through close interaction of society, academia and industry to really master the energy transformation. Only then the ‘what’ will become real.

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