Energy

Ten new technologies to electrify the future

Jérôme Fournier Jérôme Fournier May 24, 2022

electrical technologies, nexans

We reveal ten technologies that are shaping an all-electric future

The future is electric. Over the coming decade, decarbonised electricity will play a bigger and bigger role in delivering the energy transition and combating global warming. Momentum is building. Upstream, wind turbines and solar farms are replacing thermal power stations. Downstream, new ways of using electricity are accelerating the journey to net zero.

Important milestones are already being achieved. Wind and solar together generated more electricity than gas in Europe for the first time in 2021. In a year of below-average wind speeds, the growth of solar power was vital. Indeed, solar generated 27% more electricity in 2021 than in 2019. Solar now accounts for 6% of Europe’s electricity. Many European countries have laid the foundations for rapid solar growth, not just in southern Europe where the solar potential is highest.

Downstream – at the level of consumption – the transformation is also well underway. The evidence is all around us. Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly replacing conventional diesel and petrol-powered vehicles. Meanwhile, electrically-powered ground and air source heat pumps are taking the place of conventional gas and oil-fired heating. And industrial processes of all types are making the switch from fossil fuels to electricity.

New ways of generating and using electricity are attracting a lot of attention. Less visible – but every bit as important – is the transmission and distribution of electricity. The need to revitalise grids is becoming urgent: in the US, for example, an estimated US$1.1 trillion will be required by 2040 to expand and upgrade the electricity grid to maintain reliability and resilience.

So far, only a small part of the required investment in grid modernisation has been approved, suggesting that there is a disconnect between what utility companies are proposing and what regulators currently see as appropriate.

Progress is being made nonetheless. Thanks to smart meters, the electricity grid is becoming digital. And smart grid technology – which allows operators to make the most of their existing infrastructure – has the potential to save billions in grid investments. This matters, because power infrastructure in developed economies is on average 40 to 50 years old. The risk of blackouts is real.

The challenges are clear. First and foremost, there is a need to boost both the capacity and reliability of electricity grids. In tandem with this, there is a need to ensure the safety of people and property in an all-electric future. In addition, grids must be sustainable. This means minimising the carbon footprint of new grid infrastructure and ensuring that the resources required for its delivery are carefully managed. All of this must be achieved cost effectively.

Innovation will play a critical part in achieving these objectives. Below, we outline the technologies that we believe will shape the electrification of the world over the next ten years.

Direct Current Renaissance

After more than a century in the shadows, Direct Current (DC) power could be set for a comeback. DC is remarkably efficient for long-distance bulk power transfer. All of this is leading to a reappraisal of DC for transmission, distribution and even final consumption by electricity users. So how might this work in practice? Read more →

Direct Current Renaissance

After more than a century in the shadows, Direct Current (DC) power could be set for a comeback. DC is remarkably efficient for long-distance bulk power transfer. All of this is leading to a reappraisal of DC for transmission, distribution and even final consumption by electricity users. So how might this work in practice? Read more →

Floating offshore wind and solar

Floating technology is a hot trend in the world of renewables. We examine the drivers and discover how Nexans is helping to turn the dream of floating offshore wind – and solar – into a reality. Read more →

Superconducting cables, miracles of electrical connectivity

Superconducting cables are miracles of electrical connectivity. We discover what makes them so important – and how Nexans is delivering the world’s first-ever superconducting cable system integrated in a railway grid. Read more →

Superconducting cables, miracles of electrical connectivity

Superconducting cables are miracles of electrical connectivity. We discover what makes them so important – and how Nexans is delivering the world’s first-ever superconducting cable system integrated in a railway grid. Read more →

Circular plastic, a resources-focus approach

To face the growing volume of plastic produced, used and dumped, industries have to evolve to a fully circular model in which end-of-life plastic products are not discarded but transformed to create value. Innovation, regulation and international collaboration are needed to enable this transition. Read more →

Hydrogen

The race to net zero is on, and to cross the finish line by 2050 industry needs to shed the burden of fossil fuels. But which energy sources have the power to replace them? Read more →

Hydrogen

The race to net zero is on, and to cross the finish line by 2050 industry needs to shed the burden of fossil fuels. But which energy sources have the power to replace them? Read more →

Electrical vehicles

Like other sectors, the automotive industry must evolve to meet future economic and ecological challenges. Currently, thermal vehicles are responsible for nearly 10% of CO2 emissions worldwide. In developed economy such like in France, this figure rises to 15%. The electrification of these vehicles is therefore a key issue in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Read more →

Electrical and Fire Safety

With new forms of energy use come new risks. How do electrical systems contribute to a safer world? Cables are the electrical backbone of a building, being present everywhere and in large quantities to transport energy and data. Read more →

Electrical and Fire Safety

With new forms of energy use come new risks. How do electrical systems contribute to a safer world? Cables are the electrical backbone of a building, being present everywhere and in large quantities to transport energy and data. Read more →

Digital Twins

The concept of a digital twin consists in reconstituting objects, processes or physical services in a virtual environment. Its use contributes to improving the design and functionality of systems, optimize their maintenance and diagnose possible problems. Digital Twins have also turned into powerful decision-making tools for strategic planning. Read more →

Big data & Artificial Intelligence

AI is ubiquitous, enabling computers and connected devices to reproduce human-related behaviours such as reasoning, planning, and creativity. Its effectiveness hinges on the amount of data it receives, which is where Big Data comes in. With the growing accumulation and analysis of digital data, Big Data and AI present significant opportunities for professionals in the field of electrification. Read more →

Big data & Artificial Intelligence

AI is ubiquitous, enabling computers and connected devices to reproduce human-related behaviours such as reasoning, planning, and creativity. Its effectiveness hinges on the amount of data it receives, which is where Big Data comes in. With the growing accumulation and analysis of digital data, Big Data and AI present significant opportunities for professionals in the field of electrification. Read more →

Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT is briming with development potential and exciting possibilities for homes and businesses. As it expands, the IoT also brings new innovative solutions for electrification. Let’s deep dive into the IoT concept, the prospects for harnessing electrification, and the issues and challenges surrounding it. Read more →

About the author

Jérôme Fournier

Jérôme Fournier

Jérôme Fournier is Nexans' Vice President in charge of Innovation, Services & Growth since January 1, 2019.
Jérôme joined Alcatel Cables in 1997 in the Metallurgy division. He was in charge of Nexans' R&D from 2007 to 2011 before joining Michelin Group where he held various positions as R&D Director from 2011 to 2018. As VP Innovation he is responsible for the Group's R&D, Design Labs teams, innovation partnerships and acceleration units.

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