Transforming, Innovating, and Accelerating the Energy Transition

by Howard Gefen | on

The energy industry is undergoing a massive evolution, much of which is driven by three distinct challenges: ensuring energy security, providing affordable energy, and moving to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that energy demand will increase by 50% over the next 30 years, while just in the last 12 months energy prices have increased significantly—with some parts of the world experiencing record energy prices and energy shortages. In addition, the energy industry is working to reduce its environmental footprint and accelerate the transition to renewable sources. Herein lies the question—how does the energy industry ensure affordable access to energy, but with a significantly lower environmental footprint?

To answer this question, we must first start by acknowledging that diversification of the energy mix will play a crucial role. In the United States, for example, the EIA projects that the share of power generation from renewables will increase from 21% in 2021 to 44% in 2050, with the increases coming mostly from new wind and solar power. Nuclear energy will comprise approximately 12%. The remainder will come from fossil fuel resources—which necessitates a means to significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with oil and gas development.

Cloud is critical

Addressing these generational challenges will require unprecedented levels of innovation. Cloud computing enables the fundamental shift that organizations need to unlock and democratize their data, and transform how they function. While the energy industry is becoming more data-driven, many energy companies still rely upon on-premises IT infrastructure to support their business, which has its own costs and carbon footprint. Amazon Web Services allows customers to trade capital expense for variable expense, and only pay for IT as they consume, which results in cost savings.

The cloud is also more energy efficient. A recent study by international analyst firm 451 Research found that Amazon Web Services’s infrastructure is several times more efficient than performing those same workloads in on-premises data centers. By operating with more energy efficiency, the cloud can also help lower an organization’s carbon footprint. After analyzing several geographies, 451 Research found that Amazon Web Services can lower customers’ carbon footprint related to specific workloads by nearly 80% compared to surveyed enterprise data centers—and up to 96% once Amazon Web Services is powered with 100% renewable energy, a target it is on path to meet by 2025.

Energy systems of the future

Organizations from across the energy value chain are working to make their legacy systems more efficient and less carbon-intensive, and innovating to pave the road towards a clean energy future. The energy systems of the future bring together complex and distributed workflows, and leverage transformative cloud-based services like data lakes, edge computing and IoT, and machine learning, to deliver the step-change in efficiency and performance.

In the oil and gas industry, for example, we’re working with leading organizations to advance deployments of the OSDUTM Data Platform on Amazon Web Services. The OSDU Data Platform is a cloud native, open-source technology that is helping the energy industry address the undifferentiated capabilities needed to manage large disconnected data sets. In 2022, Shell announced that migration of data to its Subsurface Data Universe on the cloud was underway, and data was actively being migrated to the OSDU Data Platform on Amazon Web Services. Shell has moved wells data to the Amazon Web Services cloud, which is helping to improve efficiency and shorten cycle times. With Eni , we worked together to integrate its XWARE proprietary platform for seismic data with the OSDU Data Platform on Amazon Web Services. This marks a significant milestone because it highlights that the OSDU Data platform can be integrated with best-in-class proprietary solutions.

Amazon Web Services is also collaborating with Baker Hughes to deliver the Leucipa automated field production solution. Leveraging Amazon Web Services’s services like advanced analytics, combined with the domain expertise of Baker Hughes, the Leucipa automated field production solution will enable operators to manage field production and energy efficiency automatically and proactively. This helps to extract maximum value from producing wells, while also reducing operational downtime and enhancing overall well performance.

On the downstream side of the business, we’re collaborating with organizations like CEPSA , which built a data lake on Amazon Web Services to analyze real-time data from more than 300,000 sensors (generating 170m data points each day) at eight facilities in various locations across the globe. Through this deployment, the company reduced its emissions by an estimated 70,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year (the equivalent of removing more than 15,000 cars from the road) and reduced overall energy consumption by two percent across its operations, while increasing the production of some refinery products by nearly three percent.

In the power and utilities space, organizations are leveraging the cloud to modernize the gird to improve reliability and resiliency and to help bring renewable energy projects online sooner. For example, Amazon Web Services recently announced a collaboration with Duke Energy to develop smart grid solutions, which will help the energy provider better serve its customers and drive its clean energy strategy. Duke Energy’s applications, running on Amazon Web Services, will help the utility advance its data-driven grid investment plans to improve resiliency, integrate renewable energy sources, and prepare for widespread electric vehicle adoption. To accurately simulate future energy needs and plan investments for the grid, Duke Energy needs to run hundreds of millions of power flow calculations—a process that would take weeks using traditional IT hardware. By using cloud technologies that Amazon Web Services is developing for Duke Energy, the utility aims to run those same simulations in 15 minutes or less.

On the renewable energy front, we’re working with companies like GE Renewable Energy to help optimize their operations in response to growing demand for carbon-free electricity. With thousands of assets across more than 35 countries, GE Renewable Energy and its customers harness the power of wind, solar, and water to deliver carbon-free electricity, powering large utilities and remote communities. The company developed a highly available cloud-based platform that consumes and analyzes terabytes of asset data per day. As a result, GE Renewable Energy has experienced a 500% increase in data processing volume, supporting and processing IoT data from over 40,000 assets, and 99.9% availability compared to previous availability of 89-92%.

Clean Energy Technology Innovation

While there has been progress across the energy industry to develop clean energy technology, a significant gap remains if the world is to meet its decarbonization goals. The International Energy Agency has found that 40% of the CO2 reductions needed to shift the world towards net-zero by 2050 rely on technologies not yet commercially deployed on a mass-market scale.

This was the driver behind the launch of the Amazon Web Services Clean Energy Accelerator , a high-pace, non-equity dilutive accelerator designed to facilitate partnerships with mature startups developing breakthrough clean energy technologies. The program focused on fostering innovation and rapid growth of clean energy technology, which is needed to address the global climate crisis. Through two previous programs, the Clean Energy Accelerator has influenced over $207M in seed funding for clean energy and climate technology startups. In addition, 12 pilot projects have been initiated as a result of engagements fostered by the Clean Energy Accelerator. Over 1,100 startups from 64 countries have applied to the program since inception. Amazon Web Services is excited to announce the startups selected for the Amazon Web Services Clean Energy Accelerator 3.0 on Monday, March 6.

Embracing transformation

The industry faces significant pressure to address the challenges of energy security, energy affordability, and environmental sustainability—embracing emerging technologies and accelerating innovation will play a critical role in overcoming these challenges. Cloud computing provides the fundamental shift that organizations need to reshape their business. From oil and gas to power and utilities and renewable energy development, emerging cloud technologies are helping organizations transform and optimize their operations to meet growing demand for energy more efficiently and sustainably, while also charting the path towards a clean energy future.

To learn more about how Amazon Web Services is transforming the energy industry, visit the Amazon Web Services Energy page .