Today is World Standards Day, which has the theme ‘A shared vision for a better world’. It’s about creating a world that’s better, fairer and more sustainable. What is your vision for the future?
My vision is the All-Electric Society, so a clear-sighted concept that shows us what needs to be done. The All-Electric Society is a vision of the future in which electricity generated regeneratively and therefore in a carbon-neutral manner is available cost-effectively and in sufficient quantities, becomes the world’s primary energy source and completely replaces fossil fuels. This provides a solution to the energy dilemma between cutting emissions to zero and managing a growing world population with an ever-growing hunger for energy. Increasing efficiency helps to reduce demand to a massive extent, but simply going without is not the solution. For a fair world, we need enough energy for all. Many people object by saying that it’s impossible to power everything electrically. That’s true. But if we generate green hydrogen from sustainably generated electricity, this constitutes a solution not only for storing and transporting electrical energy but also for providing synthetic fuels and gases for the process industry and transport sector.
A common regulatory framework has the potential to accelerate the application of compatible technological solutions. What in your opinion is the significance of standardisation when it comes to climate protection?
Legislators create a legal framework through the regulation, including protection targets for aspects such as safety, interoperability and climate protection. Standardisation committees with equal representation formulate a balanced approach to these objectives based on the current state of the art and taking into account industry, science and society. Climate protection is impossible without standards because they facilitate a synchronised approach, ensure orientation and safety and provide scope for innovation. We have been working on this very successfully in Europe – and Germany, as a driving force offering a range of technological solutions, is well placed to demonstrate what’s possible. Incidentally, I consider that our responsibility too. Excluding deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil, we rank fourth among the countries that have contributed most to the current state of the world’s climate.
Are there any shining examples of where standards have contributed to sustainability?
There are many examples. The most topical one in my opinion is the electrification of the transportation sector. In Germany, the transportation sector causes 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions – the third biggest area. Assuming that anywhere between 10 and 15 million electric vehicles will be on the roads by 2030, we could potentially cut greenhouse gases in this area by as much as 25 per cent. But what does it take to achieve across-the-board uptake? Among other things, a standardised charging plug. In 2016, thanks to a European requirement, a process was initiated to ensure that drivers in Germany and the rest of Europe can charge their vehicles using the CCS-2 connector system in accordance with IEC 62196. Similar processes are happening in other areas such as bidirectional charging – that is, the use of electric vehicles as energy stores – and the automation of billing at charging terminals.
Let’s return to your vision. What is the business world’s take on the idea of the All-Electric Society? And is enough happening in the field of standardisation to make this a reality?
It’s fair to say that the issue of climate change has arrived in the business world – whether it’s the formulation of sustainability concepts for the companies themselves or the development of sustainable products and solutions. The benefit of the All-Electric Society here is that it does not give rise to any contradiction between ecology, the economy and social justice. This is something that many companies have recognised. Climate protection is ultimately in the intrinsic interests of business – after all, economic success is much harder to achieve in a world dominated by climate chaos.
What we need in standardisation is the merger of lots of standalone solutions to create one overall concept. The All-Electric Society is based on networked, energy-related sector coupling – that is, an integrated system comprising all users in the field of transportation, in the heating sector, in industry and so on. The question we have to resolve concerns not only how energy flows can be organised electrically or physically but also, and vitally, issues relating to data management in sector coupling – after all, to create an intelligent network, we need masses of data and information from lots of different areas. Standardisation has to create the architectural framework for both aspects. The DKE has made it its mission for 2030 to focus on the All-Electric Society – and, in 2022, the IEC included the All-Electric Society as a central pillar for the future in its new strategic plan. There’s a lot happening and that’s good, because the time for talking is over – now it’s time to act.
About the person: Roland Bent is Chairman of the DKE and President of the National Committee of the IEC. From 2001 to 2021, he sat on the management board of Phoenix Contact in Blomberg, where he now holds the position of Chief Representative International Standardisation
World Standards Day 2022: interviews on climate protection and standardization
On 14 October, the international standardisation organisations and their national members celebrate World Standards Day to highlight the importance of standards. World Standards Day 2022 has the theme ‘A shared vision for a better world’ and focuses on how standardisation can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – and in particular those relating to climate protection, which is our primary focus here. In a series of interviews with fascinating people from the worlds of business, academia and politics, the three regulators DIN, DKE and VDI are together seeking to use World Standards Day as an opportunity to highlight the challenges faced by industry and society in the fight against climate change. Together with our interviewees, we discuss not only the challenges they face in their specific fields of interest but also the opportunities afforded by the green transformation and examine potential solutions (e.g. standards).