The Sennen Roundup | Article 4 | 30.06.2023
Energy sobriety: a paradigm shift for a hopeful and net zero future
BY: Rita Desmyter, Sennen Head of Sales
Sennen’s head of sales Rita Desmyter joined the company earlier this year, having worked in a variety of energy-related industries. Here she reflects on the need for society to go beyond energy efficiency and achieve energy sobriety if we are to reach net zero by 2050.
We all know that to achieve net zero within the designated time frame, society must dramatically reduce or eliminate carbon emissions. It is often the latest cutting-edge technologies that grab the headlines and we overlook an important part of the solution – energy efficiency. Logically, one might assume that decision-making in this context is guided by rational and scientific thought. But it seems that we human beings are more easily captivated by the allure of new technologies or the latest shiny toy.
I think there are a number of reasons why energy efficiency generally lacks widespread appeal:
It’s not exciting: efficiency measures often involve inconspicuous changes that are not eye-catching. It’s easy to be drawn to disruptive technologies, which can overshadow the incremental changes associated with energy efficiency measures.
Perception of sacrifice: Energy efficiency may require changes in behaviour or hefty upfront investments so we perceive it as a sacrifice or inconvenience. This can dampen enthusiasm compared with the immediate gratification of an experience or a beautiful product.
Difficulty in marketing and branding: it is challenging to build desirability and create an enticing brand image for energy efficiency, compared with marketing products and services that align with current trends or are associated with status symbols.
However, with the recent events in Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis, the perception of energy efficiency is changing gradually. People are becoming more aware of the urgency surrounding environmental issues and the need for sustainable practices. Efforts are underway to reframe energy efficiency as an attractive and desirable choice by emphasising its long-term benefits, cost savings, and positive environmental impact. Yet, more is needed, and at a faster pace.
Deeper and more desirable than energy efficiency, is energy sobriety – a subtle paradigm shift.
Energy sobriety is a term I first encountered in the French language and it made immediate sense to me. It encapsulates a conscious and responsible approach to energy consumption and management. It offers a deeper and more powerful approach but ideally, efficiency and sobriety work hand in hand to support more intelligent energy consumption. It encourages society to reduce energy consumption by avoiding excess and waste. For individuals, it’s taking active steps such as turning the thermostat down, using electrical appliances outside peak hours and turning off devices when not in use. The concept of energy sobriety is gaining traction and it drives me to pursue my career in the energy transition.
Energy sobriety in the wind industry
I believe it is time for the renewables industry to embrace the concept of energy sobriety and am interested in how this can be done. If industry adopts this new framework of thinking, we can accelerate the pace of change.
There are social, environmental and economic benefits associated with adopting a ‘sober’ approach across the entire energy sector – from generation to transmission, distribution, and consumption. This approach ensures a more respectful and sustainable functioning of the sector as a whole.
Technological advancements are part of the solution – and Sennen has a role to play here. With a system that supports greater operational efficiency, renewables operators can ultimately generate more electricity with fewer resources and less ‘waste’.
I support a balanced approach that acknowledges that technology must go hand in hand with behaviour change. While technological advancements can bring real efficiency and value, they shouldn’t distract from the basics. At Sennen, we firmly believe that robust digital tools are essential to supporting large renewable energy operators and investors in achieving their net-zero targets. Sennen serves as a fundamental building block—a reliable and practical solution grounded in a well-thought-out and rational approach. It aligns with the industry’s true need for embracing energy sobriety, rather than getting caught up in fleeting trends or superficial technological distractions.
In a hopeful future, energy sobriety can capture imaginations and drive change
As decision-makers increasingly recognise the urgency of addressing climate change and embrace a stronger sense of social responsibility, the concept of energy sobriety can take centre stage. When genuinely communicated, it has the capacity to capture imaginations and drive positive change. We may witness the emergence of roles such as “head of sobriety” within corporate responsibility departments, highlighting the growing importance of this transformative concept.
Some may label me idealistic, but history has shown that dreamers play a crucial role in shaping our world. I proudly count myself among those who look forward to a brighter, more sustainable future!