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Transitioning to a data-driven energy market

Digital technologies can be key enablers to low carbon energy

The energy industry is undergoing a radical transformation. Not only are we seeing a shift towards carbon neutrality, but the oil, gas and renewables sectors are also doubling down on data-driven digitalisation to make better-informed business decisions. This transformation aligns with US technology firm Intel’s commitment to a positive global impact—after all, our purpose is to create technology that enriches the lives of every person on earth.

With capital markets favouring green energy, we are seeing a shift away from petro-state economies and towards electro-state economies. What this means for many oil and gas (O&G) companies is an impending transformation into integrated energy businesses.

And with integrated energy comes carbon neutrality, a trend that is seeing O&G companies look to lower their carbon footprints by prioritising renewables. As a result, many firms are now delivering mixed energy sources—including oil, gas and renewables—and investing in carbon capture utilisation and storage initiatives. 

Pivoting to data

Accompanying the shift to integrated energy is a transition to a data-driven energy market. Businesses are increasingly relying on AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) for improved asset visibility, making better data-informed decisions and in turn becoming more efficient, profitable, and carbon neutral. 

This year, the pandemic has accelerated the transition of these two pivotal developments in the energy industry significantly. But this multifaceted transition will not happen evenly across the field. We are already seeing a geographic disparity in the rate and level of change across different countries and companies.

As members of this industry and active participants in its transformation, it is our shared responsibility to collectivity measure the carbon footprint across our supply chain. After all, none of us exist in a vacuum—we must work together to achieve measurable, impactful change.

At Intel, we have started by setting what we believe to be critical goals for a sustainable future. As part of our 2030 corporate responsibility strategy and goals, we will create a collective approach to reduce emissions for the semiconductor manufacturing industry and increase the use of technology in the manufacturing sector to reduce our impact on the global climate.

We believe that energy-vertical initiatives like  OSDUTM Forum and Open Footprint TM Forum will become central to the data-driven energy market and will act as catalysts for this transition. The OSDU initiative is an industry forum that enables the energy industry to collaborate on the development of transformational technologies, while the Open Footprint is focused on developing open industry standards that provide consistent and accurate measurements of environmental footprint data.

However, the success of this kind of transition towards an energy-data future depends on public policies and other key other key technology investments, including:

  • Accrued investments in green energy initiatives.
  • Modernisation of electric grids.
  • Embracing data-driven technologies including AI, machine learning, deep learning and federated learning.
  • Cost parity of electric vehicles (EVs) and fuel cell vehicles with combustion engine vehicles.
  • Expanded network of refuelling EVs and hydrogen vehicles
  • Availability of grid-level storage of energy, including lowering costs of batteries and fuel cells.

Staying ahead of the curve

As a long-standing technology partner for the industry, Intel is committed to moving towards a data-driven energy market. We know that modern technology is necessary to power a data-driven world, from data acquisition (data-upstream) to its consumption (data-downstream). And we are playing a key role in developing the technologies that will enable this transition, including:

  • Scaling AI to attain the true goal of Industry 4.0 with intelligent, self-aware automation
  • More secure and intelligent edge computing that allows for both control and analytics
  • Industrial IoT that fuels the acceleration of data-driven decision making from oilfields to wind farms.
  • Energy efficient and carbon neutral computing by converging of high-performance computing-AI workloads on a common infrastructure. 
  • Active participation in the standards groups and consortiums such as OSDUTM and Open FootprintTM.

Over the coming decades, the world will continue to move towards a transformed energy industry that is closer to carbon neutrality and driven by data.  Acting alone, Intel cannot achieve the broad, societal impact to which we aspire.  We are evolving our corporate responsibility strategy to increase the scale of our work with other organisations and further harness the power of technology to solve global challenges.   

Our focus on ethical business practices, respect for human rights and continued performance improvements in our own operations and our supply chain will be foundational to our new strategy and ambitions.  Our significant investments and actions to date have resulted in high levels of efficiency and performance.  Given the complexity and scope of challenges that the world faces, Intel is committed to building upon what we have already accomplished and continuing to raise the bar for ourselves and our suppliers through new 2030 goals.

We will also apply our deep experience as a leader in global manufacturing and leverage our unique position within the technology ecosystem to embark on a number of collaborative initiatives to help our customers achieve their own sustainability goals and accelerate progress in key areas across the entire technology industry. 

We believe that when hardware, software and ideas come together, technology has the power to have an authentic, human impact and enable meaningful connections. We remain committed to developing and investing in innovative technology and solutions to power the next chapter of the global energy industry.

Manas Pathak is global AI lead for oil and gas, Louis Desroches is global segment lead for process industries, and Tonya Cosby is global enterprise oil and gas account manager at Intel.

This article is taken from our forthcoming Digitalisation Review, which will be published in November.

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