Insights from the World Energy Congress, Daegu 2013

20/11/2013 - Industry insights

Insights from the World Energy Congress, Daegu 2013

Last month, Sheena Thomas from Z Energy attended the World Energy Congress as part of the Future Energy Leaders’ Programme (FELP) consisting of 100 young energy professionals from around the world. There was significant interest and attendance at the Congress, reflecting global concerns about today’s shifting energy agenda. Below are Sheena’s insights from the Congress.

In mid-October, more than 7500 participants from 123 countries gathered in Daegu, South Korea, for the World Energy Congress – the flagship event of the World Energy Council. These included 270 speakers from 68 countries, who discussed the most urgent energy challenges in an extensive four-day programme.

The Congress, themed “Securing Tomorrow’s Energy Today”, was focused on the energy “trilemma” of security, sustainability and affordability.

My key, high level take-outs from the Congress were:

1. There is no imminent “peak oil” in sight – there are enough oil reserves, particularly with the game-changing shale oil and gas reserves, to meet energy demand.

2. However, if we use all of these reserves, we would face dangerous levels of climate change. As it is, the world is on track for 5 degrees Celsius warming (as opposed to the international target of limiting it to 2 degrees), which would have devastating consequences.

3. Global energy supplies might be plentiful, but 1.3 billion people still do not have access to modern energy.

Other top energy issues that were front of mind for many of the speakers included the lack of a globally recognised carbon framework, the global recessionary context, fluctuating energy prices, and the poor uptake of carbon capture technologies that could dramatically reduce CO2 emissions but have not had enough R&D support.

In fact, the session that stood out the most for me was an expert roundtable session on scenarios for the future. Some of the key observations that stuck with me included the comments of Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of the IEA, on the four key things to observe over the next few years:

1. Foundations of the global energy system are shifting (for example the surge in oil and gas production in countries such as USA and Canada, the retreat from nuclear power in others, and signs of increasing policy focus on energy efficiency).

2. Climate change has been slipping down the policy agenda despite the risks going up, which could have devastating effects.

3. Energy efficiency remains largely untapped. However there are signs of increasing policy focus on this, for example in China.

4. Access to modern energy remains a serious problem, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, India and South East Asia.

Across the board, there was a theme of the future being uncertain, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but be excited by all the possibilities. While traditional sources of energy still have a major role to play, strategic innovation and high technology could well see changes in the energy game.


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