Europe is currently facing important energy challenges, from increasingly scarce resources and growing energy needs, to the need to tackle climate change. Finding responsible solutions to the management of our resources will define this century and the lives of future generations.
Today sees the launch of the European Parliamentary Network on Energy Solutions, an initiative bringing together Members of the European Parliament from across the political spectrum and industry leaders to develop real solutions for tackling Europe’s energy challenges. Microsoft will be participating alongside industry representatives, including Danfoss, General Electric, EDF, Siemens, 3M and Panasonic.
Technology has a key role to play in helping Europe transition to a low carbon economy and achieve its goal of an efficient, secure, sustainable and competitive Energy Union, whilst also its renewable targets. The digitization of industry, in combination with public policies designed to increase the reliability and affordability of renewables, will not only drive decarbonization but foster innovation and economic prosperity.
Renewable energy is already a core component of Microsoft’s sustainability strategy. We procure renewable electricity directly and via renewable energy certificates or offsets, and are continuously exploring additional opportunities to extend our investments in green solutions.
Sustainability is also at the core of the products and services we offer; from energy-saving features, such as energy-efficient chargers, to our carbon-neutral cloud capabilities, which enable process, product and service innovation that lead to less energy consumption and emissions. Simply by moving to the cloud and away from on-premise services, businesses have been able to reduce their energy use by between 30 and 90%.
At the same time, connected devices, from thermostats to smart meters, are generating more and more data. With the right tools, this data can be leveraged to achieve greater efficiency and sustainability, in areas such as energy, water, buildings and transportation. For instance, in Aarhus, Denmark, city officials have overhauled district heating systems using big data and cloud technology, which will allow them to capture data on heating usage, draw behavioral insights, and ultimately, re-purpose, recycle and reuse excess heat that would have otherwise been wasted.
Data and analytics also allow customers to make more accurate decisions and achieve greater operational efficiencies. By understanding and anticipating energy demand and consumption in near real-time they can adapt how they generate and use key resources enabling them to minimize waste and optimize consumption.
Embracing already available technological innovations is key to driving Europe’s decarbonization and meeting our collective renewable energy goals. But it is equally necessary to continue advancing public policies that can help us increase the supply of reliable and affordable sustainable energy more quickly.
The challenges we are all facing cannot be overcome in isolation. A cross sectoral-initiative like Energy Solutions, bringing together a broad variety of stakeholders, has the potential to widen our understanding of the energy system as a whole, helping us enable Europe’s transition to a reliable and competitive energy system. We are excited to be part of it and to play our part in building Europe’s sustainable future.