Knowledge | Sector

Innovation is Key to the Energy Transition

Alternative, cleaner technologies and breakthrough innovations that make it possible to create new business models are revealing the path towards the much-needed change in Southern Europe’s energy model.

As a society, we’ve progressed towards a new low-emissions energy paradigm which is also capable of guaranteeing supply security and economic competitiveness. However, transforming the current model is no easy task as there is much uncertainty surrounding the whole process meaning solid and resilient policies must be defined that can respond to an ever-changing environment.

Completely decarbonizing the sector is a huge challenge and it can’t happen without immense innovative efforts. Therefore, the sector requires new, cleaner technologies and already-existing technology to become cheaper and more competitive as well as a smart and sustainable system that makes it possible to create new innovative business models. This was precisely the topic of the report An Overview of Innovation in the Energy Sector for the SUDOE Region (Southern France, Spain and Portugal).

Coordinated by the Foundation for Energy and Environmental Sustainability (FUNSEAM) and under the auspices of outstanding experts in innovation, the study is an exhaustive and detailed compendium of relevant technologies in the search for innovative solutions to the challenge of transforming the energy sector. Plus, it offers a few recommendations aimed at improving the current R+D+i situation as a driver of prosperity and economic growth.

Strategy and Companies

The report analyses the role of innovation and investment in R+D and its capacity to provide breakthrough innovations that can provide answers to the energy transition challenge, thereby guaranteeing access to affordable, secure and sustainable energy in a context of increased demand. According to the experts, this requires new strategies in the definition and implementation of innovation policies.

It also attempts to reflect the relevance of innovation in energy in the case of the SUDOE region based on the primary data on R+D and innovation in energy and the main role-players, which are companies. Likewise, it seeks to identify the conditioning factors of business innovation and the effects deriving from R+D and innovation strategies at energy companies.

Completely decarbonizing the sector is a huge challenge and it can’t happen without immense innovative efforts

From a technological perspective, the report also focuses on electrical grids given their role in the energy transition and how innovation efforts must be focused on integrating the high variable renewable energy shares in energy systems. The increased participation of renewable sources in electricity generation requires options that offer flexibility by strengthening the network, managing the demand, energy storage and connections with other sectors (transport, for example).

Also analysed are the major requirements of any robust innovation system, identifying the weaknesses and strengths of innovation systems in France, Portugal and Spain and comparing them to each other and with other countries of similar characteristics to later propose a few measures for improvement to overcome the main weaknesses.

The Role of Women

The study also covers the transversal issue of gender and how a greater presence of women in science and technology amounts to greater scientific excellence and economic development in any country. Moreover, it emphasizes the role of the human factor and the conditioning factors of the social acceptance of innovation.

Europe Thinks About Its Future

The study, which is a part of the project TR@NSENER (European Cooperation Network on Energy Transition in Electricity), co-funded by the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has been produced out of a will to promote innovation capabilities in the SUDOE region (Southern France, Spain and Portugal) to guarantee smart and sustainable growth all while fostering research and technological development.