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Logistics is already a real challenge for the renewables industry. As the sector scales up, those challenges are set to become more acute, How can companies respond?

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The Shift from Fossil Fuels

to Net Zero

The shift from fossil fuels to renewables will require significantly more logistics effort for each unit of generation capacity, because wind and solar equipment produces less power per installation, because renewable installations will be less centralized than their fossil fuel counterparts and because the transition to net zero will require overall electricity generation capacity to increase significantly.

Renewable energy projects must already cope with capacity constraints on critical equipment such as specialized vessels for the transport and installation of large wind turbine components, for example. And the logistics equipment required by future generations of giant turbines does not yet exist. As the industry increases its scale, and expands into new markets, these challenges will be compounded by the need to operate big, complex supply chains across multiple regions and locations, many with limited existing infrastructure.

To manage the rapid increase in scale demanded by the net zero transition, the renewables sector will need to innovate. We see three main areas where technology and ingenuity could help the industry obtain the logistics capabilities it needs while keeping costs under control. 

  1. Advances in visibility and demand prediction, enabled by digital technologies and smart analytics capabilities, will help the sector plan and operate increasingly complex and distributed logistics networks. Digitization is already transforming supply chain performance in sectors from healthcare to sportswear. So far, the renewables sector has been slow to adopt these technologies in its supply chains. For companies in the industry, adopting approaches that are already mature and widely adopted in other sectors, such as shipment tracking with IoT sensors, could deliver significant benefits.  To capture the full potential of digitization, however, renewable energy players will need digital approaches that are tailored to the unique needs of their sector.
  2. Technology-driven approaches for monitoring, support and maintenance of renewable assets will help to improve reliability and availability while cutting long-term operating costs. Digital twins give operators additional insights into the condition of their equipment, for example, and  the digital twin of an asset can even be connected to the logistics and supply chain systems that manage the manufacture and distribution of replacement parts. Drones equipped with sophisticated control algorithms and appropriate sensors can conduct inspection operations on wind turbines or solar installations.
  3. New logistics management processes and new technologies will be essential as the energy sector seeks to reduce – and ultimately eliminate – the carbon emissions generated in its own value chain. Sharing data on the carbon footprint of logistics activities allows supply chain participants to find collaborative ways to reduce their impact. That might include optimizing route choices for road transport, maximizing the utilization of logistics assets through changes to load planning, or switching to less carbon-intensive transport modes, for example from air to rail for long distance cargoes.

If you enjoy reading this short blog, you will definitely enjoy reading the latest Logistics of the Energy Revolution White Paper.  Please see below to download your copy today. 

Logistics of the Energy Revolution

Logistics has an ever-growing role to play, both enabling and supporting the energy revolution.

A key feature of this will be the need of advanced logistics capabilities, competencies, skills and experience at unprecedented scale in the energy sector.