DNV GL - Energy CEO Ditlev Engel outlines how the company’s plans for the future will help reshape the energy industry.
There are few people within the energy industry as well placed to discuss green initiatives or, more specifically, the integration of renewable technologies into a digitalised interconnected energy system than DNV GL’s Ditlev Engel.
The Dane moved to DNV GL back in 2016 he has been instrumental in sharing his extensive knowledge of the global energy industry, developing value propositions and services as well as helping the business grow in terms of wind and solar energy, transmission and distribution systems and energy efficiency. With all of this in mind, we sat down with Engel to find out more about DNV GL’s current operations and their plans for the future.
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As global government agencies and utilities increasingly introduce programmes to help businesses and households use energy more efficiently, DNV GL’s objective is to help programme sponsors design, implement and track energy efficiency programmes on budget, with verifiable results while delivering high customer satisfaction.
With key services ranging from energy efficiency engineering and inspections through to audits, project modelling and much more besides, what has Engel noticed since joining the business and what are the key focus areas?
“We’re doing work on many different fronts,” he says, “but I think the key word for us at the moment is integration – essentially putting everything together. What we’re seeing is the likes of wind becoming more digital, solar becoming more digital and so on. In order to improve operations we see systems being built in a new way. That’s one thing. I’d also say the industry is now generating a significant amount of data, and that’s fine, but the key question is this – is it something people can use? Also, how do we work with it in a proactive way to ensure it provides value for our clients?” Engel asks.
So, what are some examples of the work DNV GL is currently undertaking? “We have over 2,400 people working in the energy business area developing multiple solutions within that space, but then within DNV general we also have a new business area which is called Digital Solutions. We’ve also launched a new open platform called Veracity.”
Veracity is a data platform designed to help not just the energy industry, but the maritime industry improve its profitability and explore new business models through digitalisation. Veracity will help companies improve data quality and manage the ownership, security, sharing and use of data.
As energy companies are increasingly committed to the sustainability agenda and making a positive contribution to the environment, what has Engel noticed recently in terms of what the industry is doing to maintain these goals?
“What we tend to see is that a lot of B2C companies are becoming very engaged,” he tells us. “For example, the likes of major software or paper companies issuing their own PTAs and going out of their way to become directly involved in the industry. So, that’s one way, people are managing their own carbon footprint in order to improve their sustainability.” And it doesn’t end there: “I think there is a very clear consensus across industries that everybody has to work in this direction and it can be done multiple ways. Certainly, more than it was in the ‘old days’ when all they would have is a CSR report. Now, it’s really about how to embed this information in your day-to-day operations.”
Beyond the demands for the obvious requirements surrounding sustainability, Engel has also picked up on the idea that businesses are still trying to work out what it means to be ‘green’. “It’s quite interesting that, in my experience, when people say ‘we gotta go green’, you sometimes wonder ‘what does that actually mean?’ It’s something that people have very different views on and the best way for me to explain it, in terms of sustainability, is to say ‘how do you create more, with less, continuously’, which is also a way to improve efficiency in operations. So how do you get more out of your assets and consume less from whatever resources you’re using in your value chain? Sustainability is becoming an environmental driver and a financial driver in terms of how people improve their operations.”
Beyond the immediate future of DNV GL, what other trends and forecasts does Engel foresee playing a pivotal role in the advance towards a greener future?
“If you look at the Energy Transition Outlook we launched last year (a global and regional forecast of the energy transition to 2050), which we’ll update in September, it had some key takeaways,” he says. “One of the things that people tend to forget is the role of energy efficiency i.e. how much more efficient can we make our operations? Basically, what we’ll see is energy efficiency through digitisation. The electrification of society will also grow rapidly and wind and solar will have large growth potential across the globe.”
Another aspect of these new dynamics will be the uptake of EVs, something Engel feels has been vastly underrated. “We believe in 2021 the cost of an EV will be lower than that of a combustion engine,” he says. “You also have to remember that as we adopt EVs, not only do they not emit CO2, but they will also become an active player in the balancing of the grid which again means efficiency and higher sustainability. We are already seeing massive investment into battery storage for EVs and we believe this will also have a huge role to play. By 2025 we believe 50% of cars will either be EVs or hybrids.”
Clearly there’s good reason to believe that the energy industry is making strides in the right direction in terms of developing an effective environmentally-friendly approach. By way of conclusion, however, Engel suggests the way energy efficiency is viewed needs to change. “There’s a lot more going on than just some power being produced in a cable.”