How Companies are Grappling with the Future of Renewable Energy

71 percent of global carbon emissions come from just 100 corporations.
Trevor English

Renewable energy seems to be the last hope for drastically reducing the carbon emissions of the world. Renewable technologies are on the cutting edge of science and technology today, which makes the discussion of this field perfect for the Consumer Electronics Show this year.

A panel of experts at CES 2020 was gathered to discuss the future of renewable energy and what is the next big thing in the field. At the discussion was the CEO of Malta Inc, the Director of Energy at Panasonic, the CSO at Siemens, and the Chief Commercialization Officer at the U.S. Department of Energy.

This group is particularly interesting as it contains significant minds from the private sector as well as the CCO working for the U.S. Department of Energy, who is essentially in charge of the entire countries energy research funding. 

The group discussed the struggles of transforming the U.S. largely fossil-fuel reliant, or rather carbon emission based, energy system and transforming it into one that can sustain itself through renewable energies.


Thanks to the rush to establish renewables as the base of the global energy stream, it has created a healthy amount of competition in the field. Competition breeds innovation, which, in this case, is good for everyone. 

In discussing struggles, the group of experts pointed out that the way global power systems aren't built doesn't easily translate into renewable sources. Renewables fluctuate in power, and they're decentralized. That means a two way protected grid, something the U.S. only sparsely has across its territories. This fluctuation in renewables also makes them more volatile, in that certain renewables are weather and geography dependent. All renewable energy sources don't work everything as fossil fuel sources do. It's these main struggles – volatility and structure-ability – that the industry needs to overcome to improve renewable energy use and adoption.

Currently, 18 percent of the U.S.'s energy grid is run off of renewables, primarily through biomass fuels, but followed closely by hydroelectric and wind. That said, the country still has a long way to go before it can fully transition to renewables.

Janet Lin, Director of Energy and Digital at Panasonic, notes how resolving renewable energy problems becomes a data problem too. Because renewables are highly digital and modelable, Panasonic is working to develop digital ecosystems that can help model what's working in the industry. Renewables are more of a big data problem than you think.

Corporations are also taking the lead in reducing their carbon footprint. It's estimated that 71% of the world's total global carbon emissions come from just one hundred companies.