The energy transition is a too limiting concept

In most countries, energy stakeholders define the energy transition as a roadmap towards a lower carbon energy mix. I noted in a previous article, the subjective nature of this name: the evolution of energy systems is very slow but should remain continuous to let these systems always adapted to the present stakes.

A change of the energy mix induces the development of new energy sources, today photovoltaics and wind power for example: the promoters of these technologies, driven by the enthusiasm created by these new opportunities, always judge the actual development of their technology too slow.

But “the” energy transition also includes reducing the share of traditional energies, fossil fuels today. In their case, it’s a whole industry that is affected. Producers must manage the obsolescence of some power plants, the generation equipment manufacturers must convert their offer in a range that is more in line with market needs, software providers and integrators of monitoring and control systems of power plants and distribution networks must adjust their software to the new constraints. An entire industrial sector must enter an adjustment phase of several years, that is risky and expensive.

Such an industry, under these circumstances, usually positioned itself defensively to avoid or delay the occurrence of a significant change. In such a case, proponents of emerging technologies become anxious and legislators sometimes feels the right or the duty to force and accelerate the development of such energy systems. A vicious mechanism is set up, always to the detriment of the country’s energy performance.

In different cultures and countries, the energy transition so results either in abrupt changes, weakening the industry, when the force of the state decisions prevails, either in a guilty stasis, when the strength of the industrial lobbies prevails.

The energy transition is therefore not only a “simple” change in the energy mix: it is a transition for a complete industrial ecosystem. As such, it is not the only roadmap for the development of a new energy mix that should be considered, but the roadmap for the evolution of the entire ecosystem.

Hopefully, the evolution of energy systems is slow. It is therefore possible to let to the industry enough time to convert all or part of its activities and preserve it from too violent decisions. Should they get on the train of change in time!

It is the transition of the energy ecosystem that we must support. It is more virtuous, in terms of employment and activity, to push the economic network to progressively develop jobs of the future than extend offers of the past up to the inevitable break.

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