Emerging disruptive trends and technologies top global energy agenda

A new survey of the World Energy Council, highlights shifting priorities in the energy sector with an increasing impetus towards a lower carbon future. Disruptive technologies including renewable energies and energy efficiency are impacting top action priorities for energy leaders globally in 2017.

Renewables ranked high in impact within every region identified in a survey of more than 1,200 energy leaders in 95 countries. Solar has seen immense growth in installed capacity reaching 227 GW by the end of 2015, while global wind power generation capacity increased at a rate of 17.2% in 2015.

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In its eighth year, The World Energy Issues Monitor 2017: ‘Exposing the new energy realities’ published by the World Energy Council, provides a snapshot of the current priorities, facing global energy leaders.

The survey shows that energy leaders face and acknowledge disruptive change. The Issues Monitor illustrates that innovation issues such as digitalisation, decentralisation, innovative market design or electric storage rapidly gain traction, while a more difficult growth context and new physical and digital risks are posing ever greater threats to the energy sector today, defining the energy agenda globally. Five years ago these issues were far from being a priority.

The findings in 2017 include:

• Commodity price volatility remains number one critical uncertainty
• A shift in economic growth – slow global growth puts greater uncertainty around primary energy demand
• Shifts in geopolitical power – due to a renewed focus on US policy, Brexit and uncertainty over EU cohesion
• New physical and virtual risks – Cyber-attacks are posing ever greater threats to the energy sector
• Talent acquisition and retention will become a major focus as new technologies continue to reshape the energy industry

Brexit has left the UK’s commitment to future sustainable energy projects uncertain

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has created ambiguity surrounding the UK’s future participation in schemes such as the Energy Union project. There is further uncertainty concerning continued funding from the European Investment Bank and around regulation such as EU State aid rules, the 15% interconnection target by 2030, the Renewable Energy Directive as well as the EU Industrial Emissions Directive 2010.

Key findings:

– UK emissions reach record low in 2015 as 25% of energy was generated renewably.
– Brexit makes UK’s commitment to future sustainable energy projects unpredictable.
– Energy sector skills an issue as workforce is aging and there isn’t the necessary level coming through.
– Digitisation of energy systems means that Cyber Security is an increasing threat.
– Commodity prices remain key issue for leaders especially when trying to plan revenue.

Dr Christoph Frei, Secretary General of the Council commented “The survey indeed illustrates the tensions that emerge against the context of the grand energy transition. The report does not find reasons why the current high dynamics in the energy sector would slow down. How the different regions decide to address the challenges and tensions identified in our report will define the agendas for the future.

Source: World Energy Council