New energy horizons
Nordic Energy Week Blog – Angela Wilkinson
What a difference two weeks makes!
This week, headlines of climate change activism have dominated the news from UN meetings in New York, whilst in Europe, the German government is discussing a step change in climate change policy.
It has been less than a fortnight since the 24th World Energy Congress, when 4000 energy leaders and professionals from across the world convened in Abu Dhabi for four days to exchange ideas and combine actions on the unprecedented and complex change of managing a successful global energy transition that delivers the benefits of sustainable energy for all.
I feel it is impossible to recap the comprehensive agenda, 80 sessions, deeper energy dialogues and immersive leaning experiences that took place, in less than a book! From my teaching days, I recall a colleague highlighting that most people can remember only three things, a genius can work with seven ideas at once – and an Oxford professor, regularly covers 10 key points.
In the spirit of us all striving towards being genius-grade pragmatic energy transition leaders and following the fashion of 5+2 diets, here are my seven stripped down highlights.
Five powerful themes kept emerging in discussions
1. We need to avoid a cold war between electrons and molecules and build new energy bridges!
Clean molecules will be needed to scale the renewables power revolution and hydrocarbons will be part of the energy mix for decades to come. Whilst there is no room for complacency by hydrocarbon players, there is also an urgent need to create more space in discussions about the multiple energy bridges that will be needed to be built together to deliver affordable and socially just worldwide energy transitions that address challenges of better lives and healthy planet.
The Council has existed for nearly 100 years to galvanise and support whole energy systems solutions and engage and equip a global community of practice. It’s time to raise our game and ensure all our voices are better heard in promoting a pragmatic agenda and greater diversity of energy vectors and storage options. As we drive to impact, we can promote and help ralise a global goal for hydrogen and clean molecules.
2. After two years of global market optimism, there has been a return of the G-Factors!
The geopolitics of energy has broadened beyond oil and gas and includes technology and environment. Despite the progress of over 120 countries in addressing connected challenges of energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability over the past 20 years, there are calls for a step-change in action by governments – regional, national and local! New energy visions engage with whole of society interests and cannot be achieved
without new market designs and enabling regulations.
The Council does not impose its vision of new and better energy futures on others, Instead. we work with governments and business to inform and translate new energy visions into reality. We promote a pragmatic approach that avoids ideological traps and inertia and uses plausibility-based World Energy Scenarios to forge new common ground and stress test strategies.
4. Price and value are diverging.
There is great excitement about the continued falling prices of renewable energy technologies and battery storage. These prices, however, do not reflect the costs of whole energy systems reliability and resilience. Furthermore, a Grand Transition is underway, which implies other fundamental changes in society and economy than the transition from fossil-to-renewable energy sources. This is often described as the shift from a resource-centric to a consumer-centric energy system. The implication is that value will continue to migrate along the energy value chain and will increasingly pivot on the attributes of energy, rather than the unit costs of energy per se!
5. Innovation is key and is not only about new energy technologies.
Energy transition is increasingly shaped by new and non-traditional actors and developments beyond the energy sector. There is a new spirit of entrepreneurism infecting energy systems. It is important not to overlook the incumbent energy innovators who are overturning their business models. Remarkable stories of entrepreneurship and innovation are emerging from within and beyond the energy sector and deserve to be better collated and recognised. The role of combinatorial technologies and non-technology innovation factors – business models, behaviour change, policy reforms – were highlighted time and time again.
The Council is supporting energy leaders across the world ion making sense and preparing for the broad and fast shifting landscape of innovation. We are digging deeper into use cases – e.g. energy blockchain, inew hydrogen economy, storage pathways. We are preparing energy leaders to become designers of disruption!
There is no one-size fits all, but we can and must learn with and from each other
It is true – no two countries are in exactly the same energy situation; regional energy systems are diverse. At the same time, it is vital that we try to benchmark progress, share solutions and exchange best and next practices. One of the most ambitious and, I hope, implementable strategies I saw for managing national energy transition comprised a 6×6 dimensional policy cube!
Our Energy Policy Trilemma Index benchmarks and tracks year-on-year performance and can be used to enable and leverage new and shared learning on what works and why. The Council supports national governments and businesses in co-developing forward-looking and integrated policy pathfinding.
Two critical agendas were notable missing-in-action
6. Time to talk about non-carbon and climate adaptation?
I didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t concerned about climate change. Extreme weather events are already bringing disruption – extreme cold and heat, flooding and droughts on power lines, forest fires and offshore storm systems – all impacting energy systems across the world. As the evidence mounts and the window for preventative action and full mitigation closes, don’t we owe it to our children to start buying time with action on methane and other greenhouse gases within and beyond the energy sector? And to prepare for the worse, not only act for the better – investment needs to flow now to ensure our energy systems are reliable and resilient and prepared for climate change impacts and the emerging risks associated with new developments in digital and carbon abatement technologies.
The Council is investing in a new framework called Dynamic Resilience to support energy leaders in better preparing for new energy shocks associated with systems risks of global environmental changes (water stress, climate change, etc) and technology developments (e.g. cyber security threats).
7. Getting the basics right
Last, but by no means least, let’s all celebrate the statistics that show we are closing the gap on basic energy access whilst persisting in our efforts to connect the1 billion or so people who still lack access to any form of modern energy. Furthermore, we need to urgently discuss the challenge of ‘quality energy access’- because basic access is not enough to enable sustainable livelihoods for billions of people across the world. At the same time, let’s not forget the embedded energy in global trade of goods. We need to avoid locally clean, globally dirty industrial development.
The Council is exploring how to take on the quality energy access challenge!
I am deeply honoured to have an opportunity to lead our organisation in meeting its mission to deliver the benefits of sustainable energy to all. I am looking forward to my first Nordic Energy Week experience and to building the road to the 25th World Energy Congress, which will take place in St Petersburg in 2022.
For nearly one hundred years the World Energy Council has convened, equipped and challenged energy leaders from across the world to prepare for and enable better energy futures. We are neutral but not passive. We engage with new horizons in energy and shape a global action agenda. We have developed a unique, powerful and pragmatic Energy Transition Leaders Toolkit, with and for use by our members.
Please join me in ensuring humanity does not run out of positive energy!
The incoming Secretary General
of the World Energy Council
Nordic Vision 2030 – World’s smartest
carbon-neutral electricity system
Nordic West Office, together with eight Nordic companies, has published a report “Stronger
Together – The Future of the Nordic Energy Markets”. The report explores concrete ways to
create the world’s smartest energy system and to find the most energy and cost-efficient
solutions in moving towards a low-carbon green economy. Nordic Vision 2030 will be
discussed during the morning session of Nordic Energy Forum, October 29th.
Nordics can lead the way in decarbonising
The Nordic countries are widely recognised as frontrunners in the on-going energy transition,
where the world is reducing its dependence on fossil-fuel based energy resources and
moving towards low-carbon solutions, harnessing renewable energy sources.
It is clear that the Nordics can – and should – serve as an example in this transition, not
only within the European Union but for the rest of the world. However, in order to achieve
this and to remain forerunners also in the future, the Nordic countries must do more. There is
a need for close Nordic cooperation and well-functioning markets to ensure that new
technologies that are needed to decarbonise will be developed efficiently.
Coordinated Nordic approach to run integrated Nordic energy markets
The report provides several concrete proposals for Nordic decision makers to drive stronger
integration of Nordic energy markets. For example, these include
- setting up a vision for a common Nordic organisation that prioritises grid investments
from a Nordic perspective
- removing barriers to the realisation of an integrated energy system
- decreasing the number of price areas in the Nordic electricity market and
- providing well-functioning low-carbon energy technologies with a “Nordic passport”
by harmonising and coordinating regulations and removing border barriers between
the Nordic countries.
In addition, the report urges to form a coordinated, Nordic approach to the implementation of
national or EU-level climate targets.
Towards sustainable energy transition
The report brings together insights from energy producers, technology providers, service
providers and energy users. The participating companies include Danfoss, Fortum, Gasum,
Stora Enso, SSAB, Statkraft, Virta and Wärtsilä.
Business sector plays a key role in addressing some of the key problems of our time – not
least the urgent global challenge of climate change. We hope that our report provides useful
insight to drive progress towards a sustainable energy transition.
The report can be found HERE
Risto E.J. Penttilä
CEO of Nordic West Office
Valmet promotes an environmentally friendly circular economy
Energy is an interesting industry. It is both highly political and strategic. It has a vital function in society, and it plays an important role in security.
The energy sector is on the verge of a major revolution. Climate change and the preservation of biodiversity are posing new challenges to all the players in the energy industry.
Resource efficiency for a low-carbon economy
The circular economy is a big topic today. One of its central ideas is resource efficiency, which is based on the sustainable and efficient use of the Earth’s natural resources and industrial by-products. The circular economy is also one of the key tools for transitioning to a low-carbon, low-resource economy.
Energy efficiency and sustainability have long been central to our business. We have responded to the environmental challenge, and our mission is to develop sustainable and responsible solutions from renewable raw materials.
Solutions for clean energy production
Our solutions for resource efficiency are based on renewable energy. We provide multifuel boilers for the production of heat and electricity, which can use both industrial side streams and municipal waste as fuel. Valmet’s gasification technology can efficiently generate energy from biomass and waste, while respecting the environment.
Valmet offers several solutions for emissions control and clean energy production. Not only do our air protection solutions meet emission limits, they also increase productivity, availability and profitability. For example, heat recovery from flue gases can sustainably increase power plant efficiency and district heat production capacity while reducing plant emissions. Flue gas scrubber technology is also used to reduce emissions from ships’ flue gases to meet tighter emission limits.
Our solutions to support the circular economy enable our customers to reduce their environmental footprint while improving efficiency and availability.
Shared Journey service concept for competitiveness and reliability
We have a strong lifecycle approach to all our services. We are continuously developing new technical solutions, services and maintenance products to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of our production lines throughout their lifecycles. Valmet’s Shared Journey service concept supports our strategy of staying close to our customers and our growth markets, and continually improving our customers’ performance.
Valmet: a forerunner in the Industrial Internet
We have established Valmet Performance Centers to serve as the primary channel for all Valmet’s Industrial Internet applications and services. To improve power plant performance, we provide Industrial Internet applications such as remote monitoring, fuel chain management and combustion optimization – to name only a few.
The world has come toward Valmet
At Valmet, we have long had an important environmental perspective – so it feels like the more intense environmental and energy debate of recent years has brought the world closer to us.
At the Nordic Energy Forum, we are both a partner and an exhibitor. We look forward to meeting you and discussing your requirements at this event.
Vice President, Energy